A bill that would allow periodic polygraphs as part of a sex offender treatment has been filed in the Alabama House of Representatives.

House Bill 452 (HB452), sponsored by State Rep. Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City), would allow the state to require polygraph exams for sex offenders as part of a treatment program administered by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Failure to participate in offender treatment outlined by the bill is a Class C felony.

The bill would additionally provide that a sex offender convicted of an offense where the victim was 12 years of age or younger may not utilize a post office box or any electronic media, including computer tablets, gaming systems or phones that allow access to the internet, except when approved by their probation or parole officer.

Butler told 1819 News the bill came after talking to law enforcement, who have seen an uptick in re-offenders moving to Alabama from states that use maintenance polygraphs.

"What they were telling me is that, right now, states that have the polygraph, they have evidence of them moving to Alabama," Butler said.

Fred Lasseter, a special investigator and polygrapher with the Etowah County Sheriff's office, is one such person advocating for the bill. Lasseter, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, says the bill would allow sex offenders to be more closely observed, as many find crafty ways to violate their parole or reporting conditions and ultimately re-offend. He also said that the internet, gaming systems, social media, and other websites are frequently used by sex offenders to "befriend and entice" underaged people to take advantage of them.

"Once I got into investigations and seen what actually goes on with sex offenders, I have seen more and more repeaters," Lasseter told 1819 News. "And not only me but everyone in the law enforcement field. We have seen the sex offenders repeating what they have done in the past or even greater crimes."

"We're not doing it for the law enforcement side; we're doing it for the kids side so that these kids, our kids, will be safe," he continued. "I have grandkids in that age group, and I want them to be safe, as well as everybody else's kids. We are looking out for these kids to keep them safe from predators who know how to get around websites and stuff like that. They'll try to use these websites to lure kids in. And if we can get a law passed to restrict these sex offenders as best we can from getting on these websites, the internet, or anything like that to task these young kids into situations where they don't need to be, that's our main goal."

Lasseter continued by stating that "maintenance polygraphs" are helpful in assuring that sex offenders are maintaining the conditions of their parole and are at a lesser risk of re-offending. The details of the bill's enforcement would be left up to the policies of the parole board.

"This ain't to get the sex offenders in trouble or anything," Lasseter continued. "This is just a maintenance on the sex offenders that have offended, a maintenance polygraph just to keep them on the up-and-up."

The Alabama Legislature has only eight days left in this session to conduct business, meaning the bill would need to be significantly expedited to reach final passage. According to Butler, the tight timeframe allows for urgency in getting the legislation to the finish line.

"We're getting towards the end of session, and my thought is that's the best way to get everybody to the table to get that very important feedback," Butler said.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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