October 20, 2011

Attleboro bars sex offenders from public areas with kids

10-20-2011 Massachusetts:

Attleboro has become the latest town to pass an ordinance restricting Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from public places with children, but at least one city councilor says it may be a challenge to enforce.

The ordinance, which was approved Tuesday by an 11-0 vote, bars Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from the city’s library, playgrounds, parks, pools or anywhere kids might gather.

“No matter what the ordinance or the law is, there’s going to be people who are going to get around it and disguise themselves to accomplish whatever they want to do,” City Councilor Walter Thibodeau said.

There are 71 Level 2 sex offenders and 19 Level 3 sex offenders in Attleboro, according to the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry. Thibodeau said the ordinance fines sex offenders and progresses to arrests.

City Councilor Mark Cooper said the ordinance gives police a tool to use when the public is concerned about people acting inappropriately.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts opposes measures like Attleboro’s, which have been on the books for years in some cities such as New Bedford, and more recently in Quincy. The New Bedford ordinance has not faced a legal challenge since it was adopted in 2008, according to the city solicitor’s office.

“Everyone wants to keep kids safe, but the ACLU worries that measures like this promote a false sense of security,” said ACLU spokesman Chris Ott. “Most of these crimes are actually committed by someone the child knows, not an unknown, lurking stranger.” ..Source.. by O’Ryan Johnson and Marie Szaniszlo

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