Alaska Law Allows Sex Offenders to Live Near Schools, Playgrounds
But adopting Jessica's Law may be tricky, especially in rural Alaska.
ANCHORAGE-Deborah Brollini's son walks home from Oceanview Elementary every day and, en route, passes by the home of a convicted sex offender, who lives directly across the street from the school.
"I think they should have to be away from children, not as direct access to children right across the street," Brollini said.
But there's nothing to keep sex offenders, even child molesters, from living anywhere they want-because Alaska has not adopted a version of what's known as Jessica's Law, named for the 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by her neighbor, a convicted sex offender.
"I was talking to some of my legislative friends and they weren't aware that sex offenders were allowed to live across from schools," Brollini said.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski was one of them, until last May, when CBS 11 News took him to Denali Elementary, where 13 convicted child molesters lived within walking distance from the school.
But adopting that legislation could be tricky, especially in rural parts of the state.
"It would be difficult in some places because of the size of our villages," said Col. Audie Holloway, who heads up Alaska State Troopers, the agency responsible for checking up on convicted sex offenders. "When they know they're not being watched, that's when we find eventually some of them have crossed over the line again and they're re-offending."
Holloway admits, even now there's simply not enough manpower to keep an eye on the thousands of sex offenders in the state-which Holloway says worries him.
"I think there are some of them that probably do re-offend that we don't know about," he said.
Florida and California have struggled with enforcing Jessica's Law, where critics say imposing a distance requirement forces sex offenders into homelessness, which makes it more difficult to keep track of them.
Recently, a California judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the law for Los Angeles County because it did not give sex offenders enough housing options.
"So there's a balance you want to try to strike where you're protecting kids, you're protecting kids in schools, but at the same time you're not making a situation worse," Wielechowski said. "So we hope to learn from the experiences with other states."
But that means money-at least $100,000 of voter-approved state money; money Sen. Wielechowski says would be well spent.
"Alaska is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to sex offenses, when it comes to crimes against kids," Wielechowski said. "So I think, as a state, we should have a policy, a financial policy, that supports our goals, which is to reduce domestic violence, reduce sex crimes against women and children."