West Virginia lawmaker wants tougher sex offender laws - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia lawmaker wants tougher sex offender laws

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Children walking outside of a school in Charleston, WV. Children walking outside of a school in Charleston, WV.
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CHARLESTON, WV -

With a few exceptions, there is no state law restricting them from living near the places where children learn and play every day.

Rosalyn Cary has an 8-year-old son in a Charleston, WV school.

“As a mother that makes me feel unsafe,” said Cary.

West Virginia House of Delegates member Mark Hunt said the state’s sex offender laws need to be tougher.

Hunt said there are loopholes in state law

The Child Protection Act of 2006 puts more restrictions on the worst offenders, preventing them from living near schools when they get out of prison.

The law also prevents more violent offenders from getting alternative sentences like home confinement. But, sex offenders convicted of lesser crimes like touching, child porn or soliciting children are often free to live where they want.

“We know we cant have a string on our children, so as a community we really need to see if we can come together and get some of these laws changed, just for the safety of our children,” said Cary.

“Perhaps that’s something we should look at and do, and I will certainly be supportive,” said Hunt.

That’s not the only thing he wants to change.

“Right now, there is a loophole in the law in West Virginia and there’s no difference in soliciting an adult for sex and a child for sex on a school ground,” he said.

“That would be a misdemeanor and that’s a real problem,” Hunt said.

Hunt said state prosecutors need to make sure they understand the sex offender laws so they can make sure punishments are appropriate.

“They may be charged with a crime but they plead to a lesser offense,” said Hunt.

“The way that we do it now is very convoluted and it’s very difficult not only for prosecutors, more importantly, for the state police to determine which offenders need to be supervised in what manner,” said Mark Plants.

Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants said he would like stiffer laws.

He said when it comes to plea deals, it all comes down to evidence and what can be proven in court.

“Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions in the interest of justice to say you know what, some supervision, some jail time, some prison time, is better than nothing,” said Plants.

Hunt said he will push for tougher sex offender laws and that is something that moms like Rosalyn Cary would support.

Mark Hunt said he will take up the issue with lawmakers.