Sex offender law reform group calls ban on registered offenders at NC State Fair ‘outrageous’

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —The North Carolina chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) is speaking out against the new law banning registered sex offenders from attending the North Carolina State Fair.

People enjoy the NC State Fair in 2015. (Patrick Priest/WNCN)
People enjoy the NC State Fair in 2015. (Patrick Priest/WNCN)

The State Fair is now underway and will run through Oct. 23.

The group said in a press release that “For the first time since 1891, thousands of North Carolina citizens and taxpayers are legally prohibited from attending the annual State Fair.”

The group compared the sex offender ban to when African-Americans were banned from the fair up until the early twentieth century. The group said the fair was not fully integrated until 1965 with the creation of “Colored days.”

RELATED: Click here for more North Carolina State Fair information

NCRSOL believes that the premises statute (N.C.G.S. § 14-208.18) passed by the North Carolina General Assembly is a violation of sex offenders’ civil rights.

Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson) introduced the bill to ban sex offenders who have been identified as threats to children from places like arcades, parks and swimming pools.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed “Jessica’s Law” on July 21.

The law is named after Jessica Lunsford. She was from Gastonia, but moved to Florida, where she was abducted and murdered by a registered sex offender in 2005.

“Jessica’s Law” is more specific, and outlines restrictions for registered sex offenders whose victims were under 18.

“The bill clarifies that certain sex offenders are prohibited from any place where minors frequently congregate. Including, libraries, arcades, amusement parks, recreational parks, and swimming pools,” McCrory said at the time.

The state had a similar law passed in 2009, but that  law that also banned sex offenders from places children gather was ruled unconstitutionally broad by a federal court in April. The state appealed the ruling.

Newton said at the time of the appeal that the state would maintain the 2009 law if the appeal is successful.

The group said that the law bans “registered sex offenders who have served their criminal sentences and fulfilled all their probation or post-release supervision obligations.”

The new law “simply goes too far. It’s egregious and outrageous. It’s overkill,” said Robin Vanderwall, president of NCRSOL. “[Officials] know full well that there is not, and never has been, a problem with registered sex offenders attending the State Fair.”

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