Leader Blues

Friday, September 12, 2008

TOP STORY > >Sheriff asks IDs for sex offenders

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Sex offenders in Arkansas will be so designated by code or symbol on their diver’s licenses in Lonoke County if Sheriff Jim Roberson gets his way.

That way, a registered offender can be identified by law enforcement officials making traffic stops or in other circumstances, such as a suspicious person at a daycare or school, Roberson said.

No one could be reached at the Arkansas office of the American Civil Liberties Union, but similar laws have been enacted in perhaps five states, with other measures taken in as many as 22 states, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

In Oklahoma, for ex-ample, the phrase sexual offender appears on licenses in red three times including under the main photo and through the smaller photo.

Delaware implemented a similar law in 1998.

Roberson said that in the case of convicted sexual offenders, he would use a code or a symbol on the license that would be apparent to law enforcement officers and also to operators of daycare centers when checking the identification of a potential employee.

“Once a person is convicted of a sex offense, their driver’s license will be suspended until they report to drivers control to have their license coded,” Roberson said.

If a registered sex offender failed to comply with these procedures and is stopped for a traffic violation, there should be a criminal offense for failure to comply, he said.

Roberson said his office was sending letters concerning the proposal to Arkansas Drivers Control, the Arkansas Crime Information Center and to some state lawmakers.

“Some people may see this as an infraction of their rights; however, every step should be taken to protect children,” said Roberson.

“The legislature has to get involved and go from there,” he said. He said he would be sending information to other sheriffs trying to get them behind the project.