The case of Doe v. Parish was dismissed under a mutual agreement by both plaintiffs and defendants during February of 2008. The lawsuit had been handled by the ACLU of Oklahoma in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma since September of 2006.

The ACLU challenged the enforcement and constitutionality of sex offender residential restrictions in Tulsa on behalf of four unidentified men and one unidentified woman. As registered sex offenders, they challenged revised state statutes that would have rendered almost all of Tulsa off-limits for them to live, work, attend church or travel. Defendants in the case included officials with the Department of Corrections, Governor Brad Henry, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, the Tulsa County District Attorney, the Tulsa County Sheriff and the Tulsa Police Chief.

Legislation enacted during the 2006 session of the Oklahoma Legislature mandated a “zone of safety” around elementary, junior high and high schools; licensed child care facilities; playgrounds; and parks. The revision in state law prohibited any person subject to the sex offender registry from being within 300 feet of a “zone of safety,” severely limited where sex offenders could live and established punishments. Although several of the plaintiffs had resided in their homes for a substantial number of years, they were informed during 2006 for the first time that they were in violation of the “zone of safety” and were required to move or would face arrest and prosecution for a felony.

Various problems with the new restrictions were addressed by the lawsuit. The complaint in the case asserted that only a small percentage of urban areas in the state would be available for the plaintiffs to live, work or travel. In addition, locating available rural housing that was permissible under the law would be difficult, if not impossible, for the plaintiffs. Many people on the sex offender registry would be forced to sleep on the streets, in their cars, in tents or in trailers in the woods.

The statutes in question applied to everyone subject to the sex offender registry without any exceptions due to illness, advanced age, financial hardship or disability. Furthermore, the statutes did not provide for an individualized determination to distinguish between people on the registry who were dangerous and those who were not. By imposing punishment without an individualized showing of dangerousness or opportunity for an exemption, the statutes deprived the plaintiffs of their property and livelihood without due process of law.

Following the filing of the Doe v. Parish lawsuit, the Oklahoma Legislature further revised the sex offender residential restrictions during its 2007 session. The amended restrictions provided more discretion to the defendants in enforcement and would not make it virtually impossible for sex offenders to find places to live. Therefore, the ACLU's clients in the litigation were not forced to move, and the plaintiffs agreed with the defendants to dismiss the case.

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