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Child Safety Zone Laws: Limited Sex Offender Zones
Residency and Proximity Laws

Residency Laws - Bus Stop Laws - Parks & Playground Laws - Employment Laws
Proximity and Loitering Laws (Never Enter -or- Never Without Direct Supervision -or- No Loitering)

You may skip our introductions and jump to sections by CLICKING:
      School & Day Care Residency Laws:       Bus Stop Laws:       Parks & Playground Laws:
      Employment Laws:       Proximity / Loitering Laws:       Court Cases:

NEWS:
For the latest information on these types of laws visit:
News and Noteworthy: Articles Concerning Sex Offender Issues

*** The Relegation of Previously Convicted Sex Offenders! ***

Initially, the essence of these laws was, registered sex offenders (RSOs) (sometimes just those on parole or probation) COULD NOT RESIDE within "xx feet" of areas where children congregate (i.e., schools, day care centers, recreational activity centers, parks, amusement centers, etc.).

In some cities these proscribed areas overlap to the extent that, sex offenders have little or no place to reside. Further, since many landlords refuse to rent to sex offenders, or a family where one person is an registered sex offender, effectively these laws create homeless persons (sometimes families). Such folks are excluded from homeless shelters left to live as transients on the streets.
Note:These laws DO NOT affect new sex offenders who have never been caught, and who may be still offending. The burdens caused by these offenders is causing burdens on previously convicted law-abiding registered offenders (RSOs). See "Divisions of Offenders" for a clearer explanation of offenders.
However, more recently (now Dec 2005), we have been reminded that, the focus of several legislatures has changed! Beyond telling sex offenders where they may/may not reside, a few legislatures have now proposed laws affecting registrants:
A) where they may/may not go (ever or without pre-approved direct supervision);

B) who they may not live with (other sex offender/s, or single women with young children);

C) when they must terminate an adult relationship (if they reside with someone holding a lease [married or not] living in a proscribed area);

D) as to juvenile sex offenders, when they may not live with their own family;

E) as proposed and enacted, some laws prevent sex offenders (parishioners or clergy) from entering a religious establishment (church, etc.);

F) in states that prohibit sex offenders from going near schools, the sex offender's Right to Vote is in question due to the fact that voting booths are in schools;
These laws are punitively exiling (colonizing, today called 'clustering') RSOs -AND- non-offenders (See Divisions of Offenders), to live in undesirable areas of cities, towns and rural areas. While communities are trying to force registrants to live elsewhere (NIMBYism), theoretically making their community safer, it follows, that the new community now faces issues which they may be ill equipped to handle! NIMBYism is inflicting a significant economic burden on school systems and the new areas where registrants live.

These laws deny registrants a meaningful society, as defined in the United Nations, Declaration of Human Rights, which all citizens of a country are entitled to, whether they have a criminal record or not. Laws that force registrants and/or their families to reside outside of, move, or sell, their residence reach the definition of a Bill of Pains & Penalties and such is unconstitutional. (US Constitution, Article 1, sections 9&10).

Legislatures have ignored any meaningful -beforehand- constitutional review of laws governing registrants. Laws are passed with impunity because "THEY AFFECT SEX OFFENDERS (including registrants who are not sex offenders)" and anything can be done to this class of person under the pretext of public safety, even if it harms registrants or their families! Given that over 93% of sex crimes against a person under 18 are committed by -family, friends, and acquaintenances of the victim- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that many "victims" of these crimes are being punished by these laws. Courts should review these laws -using strict scrutiny standard- and declare the PUNITIVE EFFECT and INTENT of the legislators!

Today it is a rare lawyer that will take a case to contest these laws, lawyers know that, a) the past effects of these laws have placed offenders in a financial position where they cannot afford to litigate; b) if a lawyer wins such case, it will place him/her in a negative light with the public and politically, affecting future income; c) the state has unlimited resources in their fight to preserve these laws, and such a litigation would clearly affect a lawyer's current client base and income.

How soon will the following occur: Will convicted drug offenders be restricted and not allowed to live near a pharmacy, OR, associate with someone who is taking drugs? Will convicted thieves be forbidden to live near places of business or other homes? Will drivers who get speeding tickets be forced to install a device to prevent their cars from speeding? Will shoplifters be forever barred from shops and malls?

Today the disfavored group is former sex offenders, tomorrow it could be anyone, bad doctors and lawyers, domestic violence cases, or anything that legislators can think up and disfavor!

--- School / Day Care Residency Laws ---
Residency laws came from one thought, one mind set, "keep sex offenders away from children." While that may sound good the way the laws evolved they have not accomplished that goal. The spirit of the thought and the evolution of the law have taken different directions and do not accomplish that goal.

What the laws have done is keep anyone "registered" from living within xx feet of a school day care etc. The first problem is registries have evolved to include even folks not convicted of sex offenses but required to register, and juveniles who must attend school under the law. Logic went on vacation and has never returned under these laws.

Do Child Safety Zone Laws Really Protect Children?
2003 June. eAdvocate

It is a well know fact that juvenile sex offenders are found within all state registries. Most all of these offenders are living with their families, or would like to. However, many residency laws prevent these "families" from living in the proscribed zones.

When a juvenile is convicted, or adjudicated, of a sex offense (and that could be puppy love, experimentation, streaking, or other ridiculously criminalized acts) and is then required to register, at that point, if their family lives in a proscribed zone, the juvenile is either required to live away from his/her family, or, the family must move (and maybe sell their home) outside the proscribed zone. Further, that juvenile sex offender is not allowed to attend any regular school, and (if young enough) cannot be placed in any day care or other environment where other children are.

Residency laws do not (excepting in a select few places [see Proximity Laws below]) prevent registrants from driving, being at, or visiting schools and day cares. Therefore what is the point of a School Residency Law? There are more crimes committed within schools by employees of the school (EDUCATOR SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: A Synthesis of Existing Literature-2004: by Charol Shakeshaft, Ph.D.) than by any registrants living near the school!

Who should parents be more concerned about, someone they know and trust, or a registered sex offender? Your beliefs might be shaken..
2003 July. eAdvocate



--- School Bus Stop Laws ---
The following news article (see 3-26-2004 Georgia below) is a perfect example of why "School Bus Stop Laws" are ineffective laws of illusion. This crime, as described, is typical of crimes committed at bus stops. "A man approached in a ... pickup truck" told the girl "to get in," how would a law preventing this offender from RESIDING within xx feet of a school bus stop prevented this crime? It wouldn't!

Notice also how the reporter stretches to bring "distance from bus stop to offender's earlier residence" into the story to make it plausible: "three years ago the offender was residing ABOUT one mile from Briana's bus stop." One-mile is the distance most "bus stop laws" chose.

The crime is committed by use of the vehicle, not involving where the offender lives. A school bus stop law, if in place then would not have prevented this crime, which supposedly is the reasoning for the law. Many folks have said, such laws are no-brainers (meaning they should be enacted), the reality is they only sound good, an illusion like a magic trick. Politics plays more of a part in these laws, politicians want votes!
3-26-2004 Georgia
Bus Stops Located Near Sex Offenders

.Some school bus stops in the Metro Atlanta area are near homes of sexual predators, an 11Alive investigation revealed. There are laws in Georgia that keep child sex offenders from living near a school, but there is no such laws that separate a child molester from a school bus stop. ..... Brianna [young girl in photo] was waiting at her school bus stop when a man in a red pickup truck approached. “He opened the door and told me to get in,” Brianna said. The man, according to the child, said he would [hurt] her if she didn't. According to a police report, the driver of the truck pointed at the seventh grader's genital area and said "let me see". Macon police charged Marcus Ellis Forehand, who was already serving 15-years probation for a child molestation conviction three years ago. He was living about a mile from Brianna's bus stop.
..more.. Jerry Carnes | News11.com

Improper use of existing bus stop laws:
In King county Washington the state was required to find a site where sex offender released from civil commitment could live during their transition back into society. Most neighborhoods rejected having them and each time a site was selected, threatened to establish a school bus stop to prevent the state from using the site. See Kent works to bar sex offenders.

Related Commentary:
School Bus Stop Laws: Another No Sex Offender Residency Zone?
2004 June. eAdvocate

Do Child Safety Zone Laws Really Protect Children?
2003 June. eAdvocate

How should one measure the distances involved with Child Safety Zones?
2003 June. eAdvocate


--- Parks and Playgrounds ---
See also No Trespass - Parks

4-4-2004 Indiana
Parks ban sparks lawsuit, debate over sex offenders

.To the 11 judges of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals who will decide whether his lifetime ban from Lafayette city parks should stand, he is merely John Doe. .... To Lafayette police officers who patrolled that part of town, he was the twice-convicted child molester who had become a nuisance -- a likely and even cooperative suspect to interview when residents reported prowlers. ... John Doe was banned from Lafayette's parks and school properties in February 2000 after authorities received a tip that he had been watching children at Murdock Park and having sexual thoughts about them. ..more.. Joe Gerrety, Journal and Courier

7-16-2004 Indiana
Candidate proposes banning child molesters from public parks

.Lafayette-AP -- The city of Lafayette is awaiting a court decision on its attempt to ban a convicted child molester from city parks, and a political candidate is proposing to go even further. Connie Basham, the Republican candidate for the District 26 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives, says if she's elected, she will introduce legislation to make it illegal for convicted child molesters to frequent any public parks in the state. ..more.. Associated Press

NOTE:.Apparently banning a person from a public place is considered punishment, according to this decision. Does it follow that, a residency law that prohibits a person from living in a place is also PUNISHMENT, and if so, does that amount to an ex post facto violation?
7-30-2004 Indiana
Pedophile Can Be Punished for Thoughts, Court Says (Update1)

A convicted child sex offender can be banned from city parks because he thought about having sexual contact with children, a U.S. appeals court ruled. The sex offender told his psychologist and self-help group that he had fantasies about children he observed playing at a Lafayette, Indiana, city park in 2000. After his former probation officer was alerted, Lafayette officials banned the man from entering any city park, including the zoo and a golf course.

The man, identified in court proceedings as John Doe, sued, and U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp ruled in favor of the city. A three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Sharp's decision 2-1, finding Doe cannot be punished for what he thinks. The full 7th Circuit in Chicago affirmed the suit's dismissal in an 8-3 decision. ``The inescapable reality is that Mr. Doe did not simply entertain thoughts; he brought himself to the brink of committing sexual molestation,'' Circuit Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote. ..more.. Mary Wisniewski

Decision: John Doe -v- City of Lafayette, Indiana No:01-3264 decided 7-30-2004 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

--- Employment ---
9-21-2004 Nationwide
Ex-convicts face a Catch-22 in job search

.Dava Rogers says she applied to all kinds of jobs for a year, from fast-food restaurants to cleaners, with no success. On every application, once she checked “yes” to having a criminal record, that was usually the end of it, said Rogers, 42. She served six months at the City Workhouse in St. Louis after being convicted of embezzlement from a former employer. She was released in 2002, but she only found work a year ago as a counselor in transitional housing for the YWCA. “On the first few applications, I wouldn't check ‘yes,' and then they would say if I explained it and didn't lie, they could've hired me,” Rogers said. “When I was truthful, there was never a call back.”

It's a Catch-22 that many ex-convicts face as they try to find jobs. Some businesses use background checks to verify previous employment or screen employees who have access to sensitive company information. ... Donna Cavitte, executive director of the Human Rights Commission in Jefferson City, Mo., said the number of complaints to her office about background checks is growing. “When an employer finds out information like that and refuses to hire or terminates you, it could contribute to someone going back to a life of crime and drugs,” Cavitte said. “It's perfectly legal as long as employers apply it consistently and not just for certain groups.”

In a news release, Sue Oliver, a Wal-Mart senior vice president, said adding another level of security to the retailer's hiring practices would “add another level of comfort” for customers and employees. The company made its announcement August, on the same day a Columbia judge ordered the company to release its South Carolina employee records for the last five years for comparison with the state's sex offender registry.
..more.. TAVIA EVANS | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

8-12-2004 Iowa
Sexual predator to move from job near school

.A 42-year-old East Moline man, declared a sexual predator for his history of sexually abusing children, is being reassigned from his maintenance job at an apartment building directly next door to United Township High School in East Moline. East Moline Police Chief Victor Moreno said officers from his department contacted state officials this week to find out what rights registered sex offenders have in terms of where they can work in proximity to children. State laws exist to dictate how close a registered sex offender can live to a school or child day-care facility. “He has the right to work there, but he cannot live there,” Moreno said. “He cannot be on the property of the school.” Though police spoke with the man, who is not being identified by name because he has not violated any new laws, it was the superintendent of the high school who convinced managers of Colonial House Apartments that a sexual predator should not be working next to a school. ..more.. Barb Ickes : Viewpoint | QCTimes.com

2-18-2004 Canada
Pedophiles banned from driving Moncton cabs

.MONCTON — A new city bylaw in Moncton will prevent any person who has committed a sexual offense involving a child from ever driving a taxi cab. Councillor George LeBlanc says the city has received at least one request for a taxi license from a convicted child molester. He says the bylaw will guarantee zero tolerance in these cases. ..more..


--- Proximity / Loitering Laws ---
Proximity / Loitering Laws:
These laws are designed to keep the physical person (registrant) away from (or from loitering near) the proscribed place (school, day care, etc.), rather than control where the person (registrant) may reside or work, etc.

Should a registrant decide to contest these laws, it is very possible the laws will not be considered constitutional, if the registrant is not currently under state jurisdiction. Todate, no one has tested these laws to our knowledge.

____Schools:
Over and above any residency requirements the -Proximity / Loitering Law- may prohibit the registrant from being within, or loitering near, the prohibited zone, either, at all, -OR-, without preapproved direct supervision.
Illinois has such a law pertaining to schools.

____Parks:
Over and above any residency requirements the -Proximity / Loitering Law- prohibits the registrant from being within the prohibited zone, either, at all, -OR-, without preapproved direct supervision. Illinois has such a law pertaining to parks. This particular Illinois law goes far beyond the PLACE, and further prohibits "approaching, contacting, residing, or communicating with a child within certain places by child sex offenders prohibited." This law definitely abridges the liberty and speech of the person. Again, as to person not under state jurisdiction this law, if contested, may not withstand constitutionality.
An Indiana case: Stephen L. Travis v. State of Indiana (7/28/04 IndCtApp) Stephen L. Travis appeals his conviction for Criminal Trespass, a Class A misdemeanor, following a bench trial, and challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction. We reverse. * * *

In sum, Officer Baldini acted within his authority on September 2 when he told Travis to leave the park because he was gambling. See I.C. § 36-8-3-6(c)(3) (authorizes police officers to enforce municipal ordinances); see also Municipal Code of the City of Kokomo, Section 96.19(K). Had Travis refused to leave the park at that time, the officer could have arrested him for criminal trespass. See Ind. Code § 35-43-2-2(a)(2) (stating person who, not having contractual interest in property, knowingly or intentionally refuses to leave the real property of another after having been asked to leave by other person’s agent commits trespass). But because Kokomo police officers lack authority to place citizens on a trespass list or to ban citizens from the park indefinitely, Travis legally entered the park on September 4. And the undisputed facts show that when Officer Fourkiller encountered Travis that day, Travis was sitting on a park bench and was not engaged in any illegal activity. Absent some illegal act on Travis’ part, Officer Fourkiller had no legal grounds to arrest him. We conclude that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Travis entered the park after having been denied entry by the park or its agent, which is an essential element of criminal trespass. We can affirm a conviction only when each material element is supported by evidence from which the trier of fact could have found guilt beyond reasonable doubt. See Culbertson, 792 N.E.2d at 576. There was no factual or legal basis for Travis’ arrest. Therefore, we must reverse the conviction. Reversed.
KIRSCH, C.J., and RILEY, J., concur.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS):
GPS systems are systems used to track offenders' whereabouts. However, for sex offenders these are used to let authorities know when that offender enters a proscribed area such as a playground, school, or some other place s/he should not be; hence, Proximity laws!

As of this article they are only being used for offenders who are still under some sort of state jurisdiction. e.g., probation, parole or supervised release, etc. Authorities and vendors tout these to be an excellent way to save money on monitoring of offenders. Their accuracy is almost without question, one often reads that they are good to within 15 feet!

Therein is the catch, 15 feet or simply recognizing they are not absolutely perfect! Whether the tolerance is 1,3,5,10,20,50 or whatever feet the problem is that they are not capable of monitoring the way the laws are written. Laws are written, first assuming a straight line distance, and second that, the offender may not be/go within xx feet of OF THE PROPERTY LINE of a school, playground, day care, etc.,

Properties have four-property lines or more, and precision-property-lines are not identifiable to the human eye, and proscribed areas rarely have signs to let offenders know where they are. Offenders wearing GPS devices can get tripped up by one-way streets, newly added proscribed areas, and other know errors of GPS systems.

____GPS System Errors: One manufacturer iSecure touts GPS as an end-all to public safety. In this Fox news article of 2-12-2004 "Cops Embrace High-Tech Tracking System" it shows several of the errors that plague GPS systems, and system inherent accuracy errorsGPS Errors & Estimating Your Receiver's Accuracy. Be mindful of the "Six Classes of Errors."

See also: GPS tracing can keep track of released sex offenders but it is not without limits "Factors such as building structure can influence whether global position satellites can get a read. “I’d be surprised if I picked up a GPS signal in this building,” said Shelton, speaking in the Capitol. Additionally, Shelton explained GPS surveillance works better in terms of miles than feet — GPS systems don’t track quick enough to work well in close proximity “It will not stop someone from committing a crime,” he said. "
Our point being they are not infalible. Our concern is obviously, false violation signals which could send an offender back to prison.


--- Court Cases ---

Other cases related to residency issues

Interestingly the 6th Cir. (Hamad, et al. -v- Woodcrest Condominium Association et al., 4-22-03) decided a case in which a housing rule prevented a family from living together. Although it had nothing to do with sex offender circumstances or laws, the court did rule in favor of the family unit!
» 6-9-03: Supreme Court Rejects Drug-Free Neighborhood LawThe U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Monday a ruling that struck down a Cincinnati law that sought to create a "drug-exclusion zone" by banning anyone arrested or convicted of certain drug offenses from a high-crime neighborhood.(Copyright © Reuters 2003) see U.S. Supreme Court Case No: 02-1452 Cincinnati, OH -v- Johnson, Patricia

It is likely this will have an effect on the "No Sex Offender Zone Laws," as the analogy is very similar! Further, it also includes issues of, Freedom of Association, Right of Travel and liberty interest in personal relationships. CLICK for lower 6th Cir Opinion Patricia Johnson; Michael Au France, -vs- City of Cincinnati (02a0332p.06)




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