Lawmakers consider ‘child safe zone’ bill

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A new bill suggested by the Rhode Island attorney general’s office that would punish certain businesses that knowingly hire sex offenders was discussed by state lawmakers Tuesday afternoon.

The bill would create what R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin called “child safe zones” by creating a list of businesses and non-profits that would fall under its jurisdiction. These businesses include movie theaters, schools, arcades, beaches, health care facilities and other organizations that work directly with children.

If signed into law, any of those businesses that knowingly hire a sex offender whose victim was a minor would be subject to a $1,000 fine for every day the employee worked there, unless the employee directly lied to the employer at the time of his or her hiring.

In the event of a lie, the bill calls for a $5,000 fine.

“I wasn’t aware that this wasn’t already law, so it was just a matter of making sure it becomes a part of our general law and making sure our children are safe,” said Rep Mia Ackerman.

The bill proposal comes in the wake of a Target 12 investigation that revealed a convicted sex offender was working full-time at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

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