Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Somebody gets it

Plan to limit sex offenders' residency shelved

The Maplewood City Council declined Monday night to enact a sexual predator ordinance that would have limited where convicted offenders could live, deciding to focus instead on education, awareness and prevention of sexual abuse.

A proposed ordinance would have enacted boundaries preventing certain classifications of offenders from living within 2,000 feet of places where children typically gather, such as schools, parks and day care centers.

"When this proposal first came in front of me, I was very excited about it as something we can do for our children,'' said Council Member Rebecca Cave, who along with other council members said she had received much input from residents in recent days.

After conducting more research, she said, "I don't feel this is the place and the way to do it. … (The ordinance) will not protect our children.''

Staff members of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, a child-protection advocacy group, said such residency restrictions could undermine the registries designed to track sex offenders.

"Of all the offenders I've ever talked to,'' said the foundation's program manager, Michele Longe, "they've said it doesn't matter how far they live from a school, a park, whatever. … If they want to re-offend, they will. But most try really, really hard to assimilate back into the environment. They have already experienced very punitive measures while they were in prison.'' ...


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