Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Kenosha News

Kenosha News

Kenosha to loosen residency rules for sex offenders

Lawsuit prompts move

Published 9 hours ago 

Residency restrictions the city of Kenosha places on sex offenders could soon change.
On Monday evening, the city’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee approved ordinance changes proposed by Mayor John Antaramian to repeal and recreate some of the city’s rules. The changes must still pass City Council later this month.
The proposal would shorten from 2,500 to 1,000 feet the distance from a prohibited location where sex offenders could temporarily or permanently reside.
Prohibited locations include schools, youth centers and day-care centers. It also removes a rule banning offenders from living within six blocks of each other.
Assistant City Attorney Bill Richardson said the changes are the city’s response to a recent legal battle in Pleasant Prairie. In April, a federal judge struck down the village’s rules on sex offenders.
The village was sued by a handful of sex offenders over an ordinance put in place last spring. The ordinance mandated offenders live at least 3,000 feet away from prohibited spaces or within 500 feet of another sex offender.
The effect, though, made nearly every part of the village off limits.

Key lawsuit

Mark Weinberg, a Chicago attorney who filed the suit, called the decision uncommon and important after the ruling.
“There are a lot of other communities in Kenosha County with similar ordinances. I hope this decision will encourage them to re-evaluate theirs,” he told a Kenosha News correspondent last month.
Weinberg has a similar suit against the city of Kenosha ordinance pending in federal court, which he said “is more restrictive” than Pleasant Prairie’s initial ordinance. That suit is still in the discovery stage.
“The recent decision had an impact, we feel, on our ordinance,” Richardson said. “The idea is to try and pass an ordinance that addresses the court’s decision, as well as provide for the safety of citizens of the city.
“The bottom line impact really is that there would be more residential area available to the designated offenders, so they could reside in the city limits.”
Antaramian was not immediately available for comment.
“This is one of those situations where we are really in a difficult bind here,” said Ald. Jan Michalski. “Nobody wants these predators living in their area, but we have certain constitutional restraints.”

Local ordinances

There is a dearth of state legislation regarding sex offender placement, so communities have been stuck grappling with how to deal with them.
The city’s proposal also stresses the dangers of offenders and the need for tough restrictions, Richardson said, to help provide clear rational for the rules.
According to data compiled by the Center for Sex Offender Management which was incorporated into the proposal, about 12 to 24 percent of sex offenders will reoffend. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 girls and 1 in every 7 boys are sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood.
“The city is not inclined to sit idly by and do nothing to protect children within the city when these most vulnerable members of our community face these documented threats from offenders who are highly prone to re-offend if given the opportunity to do so,” the ordinance reads.
The ordinance also offers rationale for the city’s original domicile restriction, which allows only offenders from Kenosha to be located here after serving their sentence in prison.
“(Without the restriction) the city would have open doors for non-resident sex offender residency when other communities have closed doors, inviting a substantial increase in child sex offender placements,” the ordinance reads.

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