Abuse in Alabama: Special Report

A sex offender at Kilby Prison discusses what he calls an "addiction".
A sex offender at Kilby Prison discusses what he calls an "addiction".
Chris Beste, is a Prattville police officer dealing with sex offender compliance.
Chris Beste, is a Prattville police officer dealing with sex offender compliance.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The last school bell on Friday afternoon, bright pink sneakers and a comforting adult to trust; all part of an innocent child's life.  But not for Sonya Molina.

"It's a torment you live with, it turns your life upside down," she explains.

Molina, like many children, fell victim to multiple sexual abusers between the ages of 5 and 14.  One even lived in her home.

"They put fear in you," Molina recalls. "They use threats, saying what they will do to you if you tell and share."

That's what she did, trying to forget the reason sex offender laws are in place. But in many cases, those laws aren't iron clad.

Randy Hillman, Executive Director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association agrees.
"There are some holes in the original bill," he admits.

Hillman, and a team of lawmakers and law enforcement officers, are leading the charge to rewrite Alabama's Sex Offender laws and to make the state compliant with federal standards, a task designed to help people like Molina.

"The initial set of standards that SORNA [Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act] and DC were so high, no one could reach them," Hillman lamented.

The new bills in the Legislature are still in House and Senate committees. If passed into law, sex offenders would be forced to stay 2000 feet from their victims, schools and churches.  The bill would also force convicted sex offenders to sign in with their local sheriff's office four times a year, rather than the two times now required. Any offender who communicates with his victim would be charged with a felony, instead of a misdemeanor.

[House Bill 378 (.pdf)]

Hillman calls these positive provisions that won't jeopardize the offenders civil rights. Now he needs lawmakers to agree. "Anytime you are dealing with the legislative process, the wheels could come off at any time," he cautioned.

But not everyone is comforted by the barriers put in place to cordon off convicted sex offenders from potential victims, or the life-long scarlet letter a conviction carries.

"Its like an addiction, and dealing with it when you get out of here," explained a convicted sex offender inside Kilby Prison who agreed to speak with WSFA 12 News about his crime. While his face is hidden - he clearly describes the trigger point for sex offenders.

"It's a control issue with a lot of people. Whatever situation they want to put themselves in, it's a control issue."

The inmate says it all boils down to people, often with low self esteem, who make bad choices by preying on young, weak victims. "They got ahold of someone vulnerable, and got in control."

But is this revised bill enough to keep the weak from the innocent?

Hillman believes it is, "We saw where the holes are, and now we are coming back to fix it"

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