Bill requiring GPS tracking of sex offenders gains traction - - Jackson, MS

Bill requiring GPS tracking of sex offenders gains traction

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Although state law requires convicted sex offenders to register every 90 days, not all of them do so. That problem is now the target of a piece of legislation sailing through the capitol.

"The fact is these are just the kinds of criminals who repeat their offenses and all these bills do is enforce our current sex offender laws using modern technology," said Senator Will Longwitz, a republican from Madison.

The bill, known as Lenora's Law, was originally designed to require any sex offenders convicted of not complying with the state's sex offender registry law to be monitored with a GPS device. It already passed the senate and has now passed the house with amendments.

"It protects victims of sex offenses from people who have proven they can't follow the law," said Longwitz.

Longwitz, who is the author of the bill, says he's all for the changes.

House members added in language that would give a judge discretion to require a tracking device on any convicted sex offender. New language also increases the distance a sex offender can live from places like schools and playgrounds. That distance would go from 1,500 feet to 3,000.

Longwitz says support for the bill has been overwhelming.

"Everybody I talk to, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative has told me they wish we could do more of this," said Longwitz.

The bill is named after Lenora Edhegard who investigators say was killed by a convicted sex offender who did not register in Rankin County. When the bill first gained traction at the capitol, Edhegard's sister, Becky Macon said she just wished the law already existed.

"This may not have happened to our sister had this law been in place," said Macon.

Longwitz says he plans to ask the senate to agree to the additions made by the house and hopes to have the bill sent to the governor's desk as early as next week.

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