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Nonprofit Challenges Oklahoma Sex Offender Housing Law

Hand Up Ministries, a nonprofit group that caters to sex offender housing, is set to file a lawsuit in district court, challenging the state of Oklahoma’s housing law involving convicted sex offenders. Dozens of Oklahoma sex offenders were forced to find alternate housing after a new law prohibiting offenders from living together in trailers took …

Hand Up Ministries, a nonprofit group that caters to sex offender housing, is set to file a lawsuit in district court, challenging the state of Oklahoma’s housing law involving convicted sex offenders. Dozens of Oklahoma sex offenders were forced to find alternate housing after a new law prohibiting offenders from living together in trailers took effect on July 1, 2012. Unfortunately, because registered sex offenders in Oklahoma are also prohibited from living near schools, playgrounds, parks or child care centers; because few homeless shelters accept convicted sex offenders; because they can’t stay at shelters helping women and children; and because being homeless violates the requirement that they update contact and residence information with local law enforcement, the housing options for registered sex offenders in Oklahoma are severely limited. If you have been accused of a sex crime in Oklahoma, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center immediately.

Oklahoma City Lawmakers Force Sex Offenders to Move

Hand Up Ministries operates a 14-acre trailer park in Oklahoma City that, according to founder Reverend David Nichols, is one of the few places that assists registered sex offenders facing severe housing restrictions get back on their feet after being released from prison. Prior to the passing of Oklahoma’s new housing law, the population of convicted sex offenders living in the Hand Up community peaked at 270; since the law took effect, that number has dwindled to 140. “This is not good public policy,” said an attorney for the organization, who plans to file a lawsuit challenging the legislation in state district court this week. Nichols agrees, saying, “I think the community needs places like this.”

According to Oklahoma police, the trailer park’s previous setup, which housed three to four registered sex offenders per trailer, made it difficult to properly investigate criminal allegations, due to confusion about the ownership of potential evidence to be used in criminal investigations. The new statute was established to clarify an already existing law approved in 2011 that was designed to keep Oklahoma sex offenders from living together. Leading up to and after the housing statute was put into effect, Hand Up Ministries put some of its residents in tents on its property. They were forced to leave when Oklahoma City officials said that tents violated city ordinance.

Criminal Defense Attorneys for Oklahoma Sex Crime Defense

Hand Up Ministries has already challenged the sex offender housing law once, and the group lost in federal court. The organization also filed a suit to stall the implementation of the law until a judge could rule whether or not it was constitutional, and a U.S. District judge dismissed the lawsuit in June. Now Hand Up is set to take its case to district court in order to protect the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders who are facing extreme housing restrictions thanks to Oklahoma lawmakers. As you can see, being convicted of a sex crime in Oklahoma comes with life-changing penalties, including a prison sentence and restrictive sex offender registration requirements. If you are facing charges for an Oklahoma sex crime, our qualified criminal defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center are standing by to help. Don’t hesitate to protect yourself against the severe consequences of a sex crime conviction; contact our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center to discuss your defense options.

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