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Proposed bill would require school monitoring for juvenile sex offenders

A proposed bill currently before the Alabama legislature would increase the scrutiny of juvenile sex offenders.

There are 15 convicted juvenile sex offenders living in Covington County according to data compiled by the Montgomery Advertiser in February. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is charged with maintaining the registry of juvenile sex offenders, even though they are protected by privacy laws.

Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter said that since the offenders are juvenile, they are not subject to community notification requirements, as adult offenders are, and it’s difficult to track the actual number.

“I don’t know where the Montgomery Advertiser got those numbers,” Jeter said. “But I don’t know any specific information because the juveniles are not subject to full blown notification.”

Under existing law, juvenile sex offenders are subject to community notification requirements based on the risk of re-offense, and if the juvenile sex offender is a low risk for re-offense.

Notification that the juvenile sex offender will be establishing or has established a fixed residence shall be provided by local law enforcement to the principal of the school the juvenile sex offender will attend after release.

Also, existing law does not prohibit a juvenile sex offender from attending school with the general school population.

“Juvenile offenders’ case files are sealed and have to go before a juvenile judge,” Jeter said. “Everything is kept confidential unless they are being tried as an adult.”

With the new proposed bill, Jeter said that things in Covington County might be different.

“I know for sure that adult sex offenders have to contact the school and law enforcement before they can step on campus,” Jeter said. “But with the new bill, even low-risk juvenile offenders would have to notify local law enforcement and school officials before they are allowed to attend school.”

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, is sponsoring the bill that would change the way notification and enrollment of juvenile sex offenders is handled.

This bill would require local law enforcement to notify the local superintendent of education and the local board of education, in addition to the principal, when a low-risk juvenile sex offender is planning to establish or has established a fixed residence within their jurisdiction.

It would require juvenile sex offenders to notify local law enforcement of any change in school attendance, and would provide that failure to comply with either constitutes a Class C felony.

This bill would require the State Board of Education to develop, and each local board of education to adopt, a comprehensive model policy for the supervision and monitoring of low risk juvenile sex offender students attending school with the general student population and would require alternative educational placement for any juvenile sex offender who is a moderate or high risk for re-offense.