From Autauga County -- a rape victim is speaking out about legislation being that would put further restrictions on where sex offenders can live. It's a bill local authorities and lawmakers say would break up large clusters of sex offenders in one area.
When sex offenders finish their time behind bars, they're only allowed to leave jail if they have an address to go to -- but Autauga County leaders say they're seeing a problem of homes being set up for sex offenders in the county, where as many as 10 of them live together. So lawmakers are hoping to pass a bill that would help monitor and break those clusters...
"This is the city of Prattville here, as you see, the red dots," Said Autauga County Sheriff's Investigator, Troy Seamon, as he was showing our crew the map. "Offenders cannot live here. There are schools and daycares where they're not allowed to live. Out in the county, it's wide open."
They're wide open spaces, that leave rape survivor, Penny Nichols, worried... monitoring sex offender clusters often. And she says she's for a bill that would allow the Autauga County Sheriff's office to limit the amount of sex offenders living near each other.
"If you have four or five of them living in a group home together that is not licensed or regulated whatsoever -- that's what I'm scared of," Said rape victim, Penny Nichols.
State representative, Paul Beckman of Prattville, is co-sponsoring the bill. He says it would give the Sherriff's office a license to monitor sex offenders in the county. It would allow them to regulate whether they can live with others depending on their offense.
Nichols says she's scared of what could happen if something isn't done about group homes housing sex offenders...
"Rehashing what they did and the joys they got out of trying to intimidate and control their victims and everything... I think it's just going to make them go back out into the public and repeat," Said Nichols.
So we asked Beckman, is the bill unconsitutional?
"My opinion -- it is not. And the reason is we've scrutinized and looked at it, the legislators. We had the attorney general's office come in there, look at it and re-write it," Said Beckman.
Beckman and law enforcement officers tell us another problem they're facing is what they're calling "financial predators" -- people who say they want to help sex offenders, but instead, they're hiking rent prices and using their circumstances for financial gain. If this bill goes through in the next legislative session, anyone who knowingly violates it could face felony charges.
The law would also require deputies to have at least one monitor for every 10 sex offenders in the county.