Sex offender law in Oregon is different

Without giving too much away, I live near a park in West Medford and I just found on www.familywatchdog.com, a Web site that tracks where sex offenders live, that a sex offender lists an address near this park. A friend told me that sex offender cannot live within a 1,000 feet of a park of school. Should I call the police to report this person?

— Wendy M., Medford

Hate to break this to you, Wendy, but the sex offender you are talking about can legally live near the park or a school. Oregon does not have a sex offender-residency law requiring them to live a certain distance from places where children congregate, according to Medford police Officer Tom Sweeney.

"A lot of people are confused about this," Sweeney said. "We do get some calls from people who believe they cannot live near a school."

Our neighboring states to the north and south each have laws restricting where convicted sex offenders may live. California law states that an offender may not live within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or other places where kids gather. In Washington, offenders considered "high risk" can't live within 880 feet of schools or day care centers.

The 2,000-feet rule in California is having an unexpected effect here in Oregon, as Sweeney said sex offenders in Northern California, who cannot find housing in towns because of the residency law, have moved north into Oregon.

"We are starting to see more of them here from northern California," Sweeney said. "It's a concern."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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