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Advocates for care facility for sex offenders gain momentum with House vote



During an all-night state House session last week, representatives unanimously passed a bill that would create a separate facility for sex offenders in need of long-term care.

Nursing home advocate Wes Bledsoe was more than pleased.

"I cannot express in words how proud I am of our representatives and all of the supporters who made this happen," he said. "When I saw the result of the unanimous vote, I literally cheered, then wept with gratitude."

The final vote was 98-0.

House Bill 2704, authored by Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, directs the Oklahoma State Department of Health to start the process to find a long-term care facility for sex offenders. The bill does not mandate building a new facility, but rather calls on private companies to submit proposals regarding existing buildings that could be used to house sex offenders.

For the past few years, Bledsoe and news reports have highlighted the problem of sex offenders being placed in nursing homes. In some instances, the offenders sexually abused some of the residents.

The numbers fluctuate at times, but Bledsoe, who has been tracking this issue for eight years, said as many as 30 sex offenders are currently residing in Oklahoma nursing homes. "Scott Cooper


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