Sex Offenders Cannot Loiter in Public Libraries, Says South Dakota Senate

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By Kirsten Swanson

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Updated: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:14:55 MST

Soon lawmakers will decide if public libraries are places registered sex offenders cannot loiter in.

The South Dakota Senate bill stems from an incident that happened right here in Rapid City.

Both law enforcement and library leaders see it as a change that needs to happen to protect children in that public setting.

It's a place many children go to learn and explore, but under South Dakota law, public libraries are not included on the list of places sex offenders cannot loiter in.

State representatives pushed to change that this year and after receiving the green light, SB 125 heads for the South Dakota House.

"I anticipate it will pass fairly soon and expect that the governor will sign it," said Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom.

The bill would amend the law to include prohibiting sex offenders from loitering in a public library.

Jim McShane is the director at the Rapid City Public Library.

He says children should feel safe because libraries provide a place for them to grow.

"We have a responsibility to make this a safe environment," McShane said. "We hope that they [sex offenders] won't have the right to loiter where children are in the library."

McShane said he's thankful legislators are taking steps to include public libraries.

"Naturally, when people think of children they think of public libraries and so it's a natural association that we make and I think it was just an oversight and it was left off the initial bill," McShane said. "It just gives us that extra bit of leverage should we need it."

SB 125 is currently on the agenda for the House Judiciary Committee to review. If that committee passes it through, it will head to the house floor for a vote and if passed, will head then to Governor Daugaard’s desk for signature.

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