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May 21, 2009

New sex offender rules and regulations become law in Iowa

As detailed in this local article, "revised restrictions on convicted sex offenders were signed into law today by Gov. Chet Culver, under a bill that several key law enforcement officials said will better protect Iowans."  Here are more details:

The main change in Senate file 340 sets up what is known as exclusion zones.  It gives schools, child care centers and public library officials the ability to grant or deny access to any convicted sex offender.

But the bill also no longer prohibits about 3,100 of the state's lower-risk offenders from living closer than 2,000 feet from a school or child care facility.  They could live as close as they like, but they would not be allowed inside the exclusion zone. Offenders with the most serious crimes on their records would still be required to abide by the 2,000-foot rule, however.

Law enforcement agency representatives have generally said the revised law would help them keep the most dangerous child predators away from key areas where children are located. Currently, a sex offender can spend time around places like schools but simply cannot live in that location. The changes would give law enforcement more authority to remove sex offenders from such areas and better protect the public, advocates for the bill said.

The bill, which some lawmakers have worked on for more than four years, easily passed both the House and the Senate with votes from both Democrats and Republicans.  About 70 law enforcement officials and lawmakers from both parties joined Culver at the Capitol today to sign the bill. “This was done to fix a loophole in the law, which although limiting where offenders could live, it did not address other dangers to public safety in terms of day-to-day behaviors of registered sex offenders,” Culver said.

As regular readers know, Iowa was a pioneer in the development of residency restrictions and also was the locale for the first complaints from law enforcement officials about administrative problems with these laws.  It will be interesting to see if other jurisdictions transition away from unduly broad residency restrictions and move toward this new "exclusion zones" model.

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The bill was drafted behind closed doors and only a few persons outside the committee were allowed to comment during the drafting stage. The 39 page bill was finally released the last week of the session and most legislators did not have time to read it (or understand it if they did) before it was passed.

It is not known if exclusion zones are constitutional. In Iowa polling places are at schools, libraries, churches and other public buildings where children are commonly located and I doubt that one can keep people from voting.

It would be prudent to wait and see how this law works before following suit.

Posted by: John Neff | May 21, 2009 3:42:44 PM

Given that felons are already barred from voting that particular hurdle doesn't seem like it would be a winner for people trying to fight this change.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 21, 2009 4:44:23 PM

pretty sure felons can vote in Iowa Soronel.

Posted by: Anon | May 21, 2009 5:19:58 PM

Soronel, see here: http://www.governor.iowa.gov/administration/citizenship-faq.php

Posted by: Zack | May 21, 2009 5:28:12 PM

Felons can vote in Iowa after completion of supervised release. Some sex offenders are charged with indictable misdemeanors and retain their voting rights even if they are in prison (in Iowa such persons could be in prison).

Posted by: John Neff | May 21, 2009 5:31:05 PM

Okay, interesting.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 21, 2009 5:37:15 PM

Ain't it a bummer when facts and knowledge get in the way of a good argument, Soronel?

Posted by: truth shall set you free | May 21, 2009 5:56:42 PM

any prohibition on sex offenders running for office in Iowa? that might lead to some interesting legal discussions...

Posted by: pubdefender | May 21, 2009 7:36:32 PM

You have to be an elector to sign an nomination petition and that implies that a candidate must also be an elector. A felon with restored voting rights is an elector.

I know we have several members of the Iowa legislature that have been convicted of indictable misdemeanors. Governor/Senator Harold Hughes was convicted several time for DUI and we have also had judges convicted on that charge as well. My recollection was that the DMR reviewed elected officials to see if they had criminal records and some did but I don't recall if any were felonies.

It is not impossible that somewhere in Iowa a sex offender is an elected official. Other than that they are probably fine citizens.

Will a sex offender be able to participate in a caucus if it is held in an exclusion zone?

Posted by: John Neff | May 21, 2009 8:42:05 PM

Thank the feminist for this hysteria.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 21, 2009 10:19:33 PM

You have asked an excellent issue. I do be in agreement with your piece of writing. It is all about put into practice.

Posted by: Phone Sex UK | Jan 12, 2010 4:42:47 AM

This law makes it even worse for people who are unfairly deemed to be sex offenders. My nephew who was 19 years old was convicted for having sex with a 13-year-old girl who crawled into HIS bed naked while he was sleeping (his roommate was having a party at their apartment). They had sex and when her parents found out about it they wanted to throw the book at him. She played the innocent little girl and my nephew had no money to fight it. It has almost ruined his life. No one would hire him or rent to him because he was a convicted "sex offender." What a crock!! How can the general public distinguish between someone like him and a person who molests little kids.

Posted by: Judy | Feb 5, 2010 11:30:43 AM

Did your nephew go to prison?

Posted by: Phone Sex numbers | Sep 27, 2010 8:55:14 AM

Did your nephew go to prison?

Posted by: Phone Sex numbers | Sep 27, 2010 8:56:17 AM

Sometimes that works beautifully.

Posted by: Phone Sex | Feb 21, 2011 5:54:45 PM

I am an enrolled agent. also a questioning grandmother.
My grandson met a girl in 2003 over the internet while he was recovering from knee surgery. She told him she was 18, he drove to pick her up. They stopped so she could buy cigarettes with a fake id. went to an R rated movie with a fake ID. When the sheriff knocked on his door the next morning at 7:30 am he found out she was 14. they found out who he was through his emails. His life has been hell since. The county attorney has a vendetta to wipe the world of all sex offenders and has ruined his life over this. Who can we contact to go to court and get this wrong righted.

Posted by: j schaf | Mar 23, 2011 8:10:14 PM

i am a convicted sex offender i was 21 and slept with a girl who told me she was 17 she became pregnant and had our child.she was only 15. her mother had charges pressed on me i went to a jury trial and was convicted of sex abuse in the third degree 709.4 2.c.4 and under iowa law i have to be on probation for the rest of my life and since the law says im on probation for the rest of my life i have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life. to top things off while i was in jail after my conviction i filed an appeal and posted bond and was realeased,me and my alleged victim remained in contact the whole time while in jail and through the halfway house after my bond was possted my alleged ictim became my wife, she was 17 so her mother signed the papers so we could get married. how ironic when she was the one who pressed the charges on me.now me and mt wife have two beautiful daugters who i have to explain to when they get older wht im a sexoffender i take full responsibillity for what i done. i just dont see how the punishment fits the crime. so when people say all sex offender are the same i must disagree so i hope when people read this they will see that as well. again i take full responsibillity for my actions but their is something that just isnt right about my punishment

Posted by: bob | May 23, 2011 3:20:54 AM

Very interesting blogs about very interesting and legal Issue.Thanks for this great job you have done for viewers.

Posted by: Phone Sex | Jun 23, 2011 11:53:40 AM

I am neither a professor or a student, just an American citizen who believes our rights are slowly being taken away. Hello, My fiance had a sexual assault charge in Canada in the 90's. He did 4 years for this and then moved to the state of Iowa where he had to be on the Sexual Registry for 10 years which will end in May of this year. He just received a letter stating that his TIER will be changed from a Teir II to a Teir III. And that he will have to be on this registry for LIFE. We have contacted an attorney just today, but what are your views on this?

Posted by: Christina Rao | Mar 19, 2012 11:04:03 PM

Im a convicted sex offender with 2 counts of 3rd degree.when i was arrested i was broke and had no way of paying for a lawyer and had one appointed to me,which was a joke so i was hung before i could prove my case.I did 9 years in prison for this crime and i did not just sit in my cell and hate the world. I finished school i worked 3 jobs one being a mentor to other sex offenders getting them to confess there crimes in group.I helped them to come to terms with what they did and to better themselves even getting a few to finish school.
When i first started taking the classes for sex offenders i asked for a lie detector test and passed. Thats when they offered me the job as a mentor. I have stacks of certificates of classes i have taken and compleated.but when i got out after all those years i found out that there is nothing for me out here i cant live anywhere or find a job.society was way to quick to condem a person.our rights have been taken and we are all put under the same catagory. this is not right and someone needs to stand up for us. not all are animals as we are labeled. to many people are trying to play hero and make up laws that are just not fare.

Posted by: Richard | Nov 22, 2012 3:00:14 PM

I am 19 and I am a registered sex offender, I was convicted when i was 17 for having sex with a girl who lied and tricked me telling me she was 15. I went to a private high school, straight-A student. When my high school found out they threat to kick me out and not let me graduate even though i was two months from graduation. When i graduated high school i went to college but my life got even rougher, i wasn't allowed to live in the dorms and no apartments would rent to me, i couldn't find a job and worse of all i havent been able to talk to my family since because my siblings are all under 18 and i cant have contact with any of them. I have to register every 3 months and everywhere i go i hold my head down in shape. I go to a class for sex offenders and all the other members are anywhere from 30 to older all with child molestation cases. Ive been on probation since i was 17 and i can never hang out with my family because cant be near minors. I found a girl in college who took me in and i told her everything, we have been together for almost two years but i am afraid of taking things any further because of this. I was just a stupid kid and now i get scared even walking around campus from class to class. I hope one day my struggles will pay off... until then my school is first, I want to make my parents proud and get a degree and maybe even a masters in something and hopefully by the time im done the law will see that they got the wrong person. Im not a criminal i just made a mistake that wasnt entirely all mine. Why is that i was honest to this girl, yet im the criminal? she lied and tricked me but yet she is the victim? why was i scared and threatened with prison and all these consequences and she was let go? she had told me i wasnt her first, whether that was true or not, i dont care. Nothing will ever make up for the birthdays and christmas's ive missed out on with my family. I hope this one day i can take this girl ive met in college to new levels and work up the courage to not be afraid. Until then, i will give everyday my best and look for that silver lining in everything i do. I advise everyone to educate yourself on your cases, your laws, and never take no for an answer. as long as your still alive you have rights!!

Posted by: Luis Lopez | May 25, 2013 11:36:11 AM

First to start I am a student actually writing a paper over sex offenders and the regulations that comes with being a sexual offender. I find these postings very interesting to hear. I have always wondered what happens to the people who are lied and tricked into believing someone is older. I unfortunately have lied and tricked others but I also had a really bad sex addiction. I don't quite understand why I was not punished or why the other girls who were lying and tricking were not punished, but I never went to run and tell on them either. I lied and tricked them. They just gave me what I want. However, this blog helps a lot within my paper for my class. Please if anybody has any other information that they would not mind me using for my papers please email me at andrea.allen@hawkeyecollege.edu Thank you very much!

Posted by: Domineek Neecole | Oct 10, 2014 2:36:23 PM

life suck and no one forgive you only GOD. Jesus he will. HELL IS WORSE THEN THIS.

Posted by: Vinny | Jun 15, 2015 3:58:48 AM

I am a mother of a registered sex offender and I am a student in a Master's program. I am also an advocate for those who have gotten a raw deal from our justice system. I am looking for information on how to fight for my son to have the right to be around his nephew when he comes over for Sunday dinner. I am wondering if any one else has had this problem in Iowa? My son's probation officer has denied him the right to visit with his nephew until she thinks it will be okay. My son was convicted of a low level offense but because of some other issues has returned to prison 3 times since his first sentencing. another question I have is why a label of sexual predator is put on all persons convicted of a sexual offense when the majority of them never touched any child nor did they have the desire to do so? If we as a society can't find a way to get rid of labels, we will all be known as one thing or another for life. After reading some of the comments here I wish our senators and congress would walk the walk before they attempted to talk the talk. I belong to the organization FAMM which is active in lobbying for mandatory minimum sentencing laws to be changed for all offenses be it sex offense or drug offense. Many of the people who are incarcerated are there for periods of time longer than murderers. Where is the justice in our judicial system?? Until everyone who is tired of being railroaded by our criminal justice system takes a stand, no one will bother changing the laws of this country. So if all of you are tired of the treatment being given to you and the label put over your head, take a stand. Start lobbying for changes, the more we speak out, the more we will be heard.

Posted by: Deb Johnson | Jan 10, 2016 8:25:24 PM

My family member has to register and went to jail for sending sexual messages to a 15 almost 16 year old while drunk who pursued him. Now he can't get a job he is married and has a baby. It makes me sick. Was he wrong yes, but he never touched her and her mother gave the girl this guys number to pursue.

Posted by: sarah | Mar 8, 2016 3:44:36 PM

to clarify he was 23 and he and this girls mom worked together. He has done everything he was supposed to still can't go on with his life 10 years later!

Posted by: sarah | Mar 8, 2016 3:47:27 PM

Can a sex offender live with his sister

Posted by: Corey Reben | Apr 6, 2016 1:47:34 PM

it's been over 30 years since my conviction for a sexual assault. I've done everything and more to make amends but I can never take it back. Today, I am unemployed and living on the streets. My victim was an adult at the time and I still find it almost impossible to find safe & reasonable housing. Employment is next to impossible to find. I live under the threat of incarceration daily from the authorities because I must go to the sheriffs office daily and report where I will be each night despite the fact I just had back surgery and must walk every where I go. It's been 30 fu#%$^@ years and I beginning to grow bitter & angry. To bad you say? Well, best I can say is do some research because treating people like I'm being treated creates angry hateful monsters. All I can do is pray for a better where I don't have to live on the streets or very possibly right in your ally. No one in the Government (Legislator's, Senator's, Police, Sheriff) will do anything other than promote new more inclusive/restrictive laws. Their only concerns are with promoting their own personal agenda's & careers. these law makers love instilling fear & hate into the minds of society. I will be oppressed as well as openly discriminated against for the rest of my life despite the fact I used to be a highly skilled craftsman. It makes me sick.

Posted by: MikelKM | Aug 11, 2016 11:43:00 AM

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