May 7, 2014

Reasonable residency rules for sex offenders in Commerce City

5-7-2014 Colorado:

Commerce City's solution to deciding where sex offenders can live is a model for how communities can reasonably handle residency requirements.

Commerce City on Monday passed an amendment to its residency requirements, allowing registered sex offenders who aren't sexually violent to seek exceptions to rules that ban them from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park, playground or day care center.

Officials will evaluate requests for exceptions on a case-by-case basis, considering the "public interest and the applicant's stated concerns."

The city kept more restrictive limits on violent offenders that would allow them to live in about 11 percent of the city. Non-violent offenders can now live in about twice that area without an exemption.

The amendment makes sense in the wake of broad restrictions in other communities that have been successfully challenged.

Last year, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson struck down Englewood's 2006 residency ordinance that restricted sex offenders from living in about 99 percent of the city's homes.

Englewood has appealed the decision, but the judge's ruling is common sense. If Englewood can banish all sex offenders, then any community can do the same — meaning Colorado would simply be trying to export its problem.

What Commerce City passed sets strict limits for where sex offenders convicted of felonies may live. It also gives offenders with lower-level convictions a chance to plead their cases.

Hearing officers will accept oral and written statements and will be able to consider several factors, such as remorse, date of the incident, and the offender's history since the incident.

This is what good government does. Instead of a blanket law, residency should be considered with all of the pertinent information available to ensure the community is safe and the offender who has been punished is treated fairly. ..Source.. by Denver Post Editorial Board

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