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Friday, January 11, 2013 - 7:45pm
EL PASO — A New Mexico State Representative is trying to keep sex offenders off of social media websites.
Representative Nate Gentry (R) has proposed House Bill 48, which is meant to protect children from being targeted by sex offenders on social media.
The proposed bill forbids registered sex offenders from using instant messaging, chat rooms or social media websites, including Facebook.
According to the bill, the first offense would be a misdemeanor. Any offenses after that would be a fourth degree felony.
Parents in New Mexico tell NewsChannel 9 they support the proposed law.
"I still think they still shouldn't be registering in an anything that they can have contact with the kids," said Priscilla Hernandez who has a 7-year-old daughter.
Arturo Estrada of Sunland Park, New Mexico agrees, "For sex offenders to register on those websites and have communication with the kids, that's not right," said Estrada.
Lloyd Schwartz, President of the group Reform Sex Offender Laws of New Mexico, said the group plans to fight the bill because as it stands, it would apply to all sex offenders, and not just those whose crime(s) involved children.
"There's a number of problems with this type of proposal. First of all, we believe it is unconstitutional to punish people beyond the end of their sentence, and that's what these types of laws do."
In New Mexico, sex offenders are already banned from using social media while they are on probation or parole.
The newly proposed bill would ban them from social media sites even after they are off parole or probation.
Similar propositions in other states have failed after being deemed unconstitutional.
If the bill is approved in New Mexico, it would be effective on July 1, 2013.