February 17, 2009

WI- Sex offender sues to return to Brookfield home

Pay particular attention to highlighting, then see notes in the full article!

2-17-2009 Wisconsin:

Brookfield - A convicted sex offender is asking a judge to rule he can move back to his Brookfield house after living in Illinois to serve probation there.

Brookfield City Attorney Karen Flaherty said the city has not taken any action to block John Dopke from returning to a home in the 2300 block of Rockway Lane West.

But she said Dopke's home does fall within a zone in which sex offenders are prohibited from living.

If Dopke can prove he resided in that home when the city adopted its sex offender residency rules in December 2007, he would be exempt from the rule. Dopke filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court, asking a judge to rule that is the case.

Dopke lived in the home until he was charged in 2005 in connection with an Internet sex sting, in which he arranged to meet a minor who actually was a law enforcement officer, according to Dopke's attorney, Dan Fay.

Fay said Dopke was required to live in Illinois while serving probation for a felony indecent solicitation conviction because Wisconsin probation officials would not allow his case to be transferred to Wisconsin. ..News Source.. by Lisa Sink of the Journal Sentinel

Article from 2007 before ordinance was adopted:

Brookfield considers sex-offender law 10-11-2007

Brookfield - The city became the latest Waukesha County community to consider restricting where registered sex offenders can live when aldermen debated a proposal Wednesday night that could make most of the city off limits.

Communities across southeast Wisconsin are racing to enact laws that regulate where sex offenders can live. Many of the ordinances target those recently released from prison.

The Town of Brookfield and Butler have recently set limits. Waukesha debated a restriction last week. Menomonee Falls approved a similar measure in June.

The moves are driven by a fear that sex offenders with pose a threat to city residents and reduce property values. But the state Department of Corrections has said such restrictions could force sex offenders underground and gut a program that tells the public where registered sex offenders live.

Brookfield's proposal would prevent sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against children from living within 1,500 feet of a variety of places, including schools, parks, public pools, athletic fields, day care centers and public libraries. It would also include bike trails such as the city's extensive Greenway Trail System.

Aldermen on the Common Council's Legislative and Licensing Committee disagreed on what the limit should be. Ald. Lisa Mellone suggested sex offenders should be kept 2,000 feet away from restricted areas. With dozens of restricted sites across the community, that limit would put virtually the entire city off limits.

City Attorney Karen Flaherty said the law was based on a similar measure passed in Franklin. Even so, the city would have a hard time defending a lawsuit if the distance was 2,000 feet since so much space would be ruled out, Flaherty said.

--Clearly this attorney believes, that, a group has an entitlement or right to some portion of the total area of the city. Therefore, residency laws do affect rights available to everyone in the public.

Ald. Rick Owen was skeptical of whether the proposed ordinance would have any impact in reducing crime or improving safety.

"Who isn't against sex offenders? I don't think you prove it though by going as far as you can and getting an ordinance thrown out of court," Ald. Steve Ponto said.

Looking at a map that used circles to show how restrictions of varying distances would limit housing, the debate threatened to become a neighborhood issue as aldermen considered how much area in their districts would be left eligible for sex offenders to live. Even a 1,000 foot restriction would make most homes off limits to sex offenders. But uneven slices of space, such as the Imperial Estates subdivision, were left unaffected because there were no schools or other restricted areas nearby.

"A significant portion of my neighborhood is unprotected. I think the people in my neighborhood want the protection of a 1,500 foot circle," said Ald. Bill Carnell, pointing to a neighborhood near N. 124th St.

Ponto expressed concern that restrictions would leave sex offenders with no choice but to congregate in a few small, isolated spaces. But adding a restriction that prevents sex offenders from living within 500 or 1,000 feet of each other would eliminate the problem, Mellone said.

In addition to restricting areas offenders can live, the proposal would also prevent them from entering such areas, with fines up to $5,000.
--I find it interesting that they feel they need a residency law, when a proximity law accomplishes or eliminates the need for a residency law. If one cannot enter an area isn't it obvious they cannot live in the area?


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