Tulsaworld.com (Oklahoma) : Sex Offenders Leave City for Country;
State restrictions on where they can live leaves them with fewer choices. Others just don't register.
Some registered sex offenders who once lived in Tulsa are moving to neighboring rural counties while others appear to be moving underground, a Tulsa World analysis of Department of Corrections data indicates.
Since 2005, just before the state imposed tough residency restrictions, the number of registered sex offenders in Tulsa has decreased from a high of nearly 600 to about 350. Conversely, business is booming at the sex-offender registration units in the sheriff's offices of neighboring counties.
Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch said, "What we're finding is people are moving out of the cities because they are having a hard time finding a place to live under the statutes." Osage County now has 116 sex offenders registered "and more coming in every day," Brown said.
Why Osage County?
Brown's answers: "Because it is a rural area. Because they can move into a place where there is no school or any kind of restriction. Its proximity to Tulsa."
The migration of registered sex offenders follows a series of state laws that have made it harder for them
to live in metro areas. The laws prevent sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or day-care centers.
Koch said the influx is taxing his staff. "The more we get here, the more manpower it takes to track them," he said. Some offenders are trying to skirt the law, he said, adding, "Many are giving invalid addresses."
"I think if they keep making more restrictions, then people are not going to register," the offender said.
"I think if they change it a little bit, more people would register. It's better to know where people's at than not."
Although the number of sex offenders has dropped in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, law enforcement officials warn that many are just going underground.
"They are still living here," Adams said.
More often now, they are living in Tulsa illegally.
Anyone who thinks these increasingly strict residency restrictions are protecting the public is fooling themselves. As proven here, they move to areas in close proximity to cities or simply go underground. Either way, they are all still around. Banishing thousands of people away from a city's boundaries with these restrictions are not an effective means of dealing with the issue.