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Law to keep sex offenders away from school fails

A push to crack down on sex offenders on school campuses fails at the capitol. Legislators in the Senate say the bill could unfairly target the wrong people.
A push to crack down on sex offenders on school campuses fails at the capitol. Legislators in the Senate say the bill could unfairly target the wrong people.

The Department of Corrections says there are about 2500 registered Level 2 sex offenders in Arkansas and children are their targets 80% of the time. Supporters thought they were close to a bill targeting these sex offenders.

Representative Donna Hutchinson says she hears of problems with Level 2 sex offenders at Arkansas schools. "They come and they go on the playground. If they have children at the school they start eating lunch with the other kids and basically all they're doing is looking for other victims," explains Hutchinson.

Her bill would require offenders to be chaperoned if they're on campus. She told the Senate judiciary committee it also targets teachers who abuse their students.

"Now when the teachers serve their time in prison, the principals can not tell those teachers you can't come back on school property," she said.

But committee members questioned specifically which offenders the bill targets. That's something even Hutchinson struggled with. "We acknowledge that labeling these predators is a little fuzzy and none of us quite understand it."

That fuzziness did not sit well with the committee, one that's known for killing bills for lack of clarity.  This bill failed without a vote.

"I think they were thinking more about that small minority in the second level that will never commit a crime again but when you're making law you can't do that."

Hutchinson said the effort is dead for this session. But if she's reelected, she'll bring it back to the Capitol in 2011, and bring school principals with her.
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