WNCN News published an article on its website in October about registered sex offenders and a “loophole” in state law. Registered sex offenders, the station reported, are allowed to live as close to a school or daycare center as they want if they lived there before Aug. 16, 2006.
The magic date is the day the Act to Protect North Carolina’s Children/Sex Offender Law Changes went into effect. The act added § 14–208.16 to the state’s criminal code, the statute that bars registered sex offenders from “knowingly residing within 1,000 feet of the property on which any public or nonpublic school or child care center is located.” The statute also clarifies that the restriction only applies to registrants who established the residence before Aug. 16, 2006.
It was the word “loophole” that stuck in our craw. The term connotes that lawmakers slipped up in drafting the statute, that there is a way for registered sex offenders to sneak into neighborhoods with schools and daycare centers. The article included interviews with shocked grandmothers and comments from law enforcement that their hands are tied in these cases.
But the statute is not ambiguous or open to interpretation about Aug. 16, 2006, and the General Assembly did not make a mistake or screw up by grandfathering in men and women who lived in the restricted areas before the law went into effect. Lawmakers deliberately included the provision.
Why? It’s included for a surprising reason, considering sex offenders are involved. We’ll explain in our next post.
Source: WNCN News, “Loophole allows sex offenders to live near schools, day cares,” Jonathan Rodriguez, Oct. 29, 2014