February 23, 2015

Town pushes back against sex offender residency ruling

2-22-2015 Wisconsin:

Who should determine where a sex offender can live in our community? Your town or the state? This is a real issue for our community after a court ruling said it is illegal for towns to pass residency rules against sex offenders.

The state court ruling has stopped the Town of Penfield from passing a ban on sex offenders living near schools, day cares and town parks. Now there's a State Senate bill to get the power back to the towns, but we wondered if it's a slippery slope.

Greg Kamp says, "We have to make the environment they're playing in to be a safe one."

That's why Kamp thinks residency rules ought to be up to the town. Kamp runs Penfield Little League. Earlier this year, a registered sex offender awaiting trial in Seattle moved into a home less than 200 feet from the Penfield Little League fields.

Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain says, "That raises a lot of concerns. My phone rings."

The town wrote the Child Safety Act outlawing registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school, daycare or town park -- including the baseball fields. However, now the state's top court says only the state can make that law. But Senator Rich Funke is sponsoring a bill so that towns like Penfield have the power.

He says, "You need to have a say at the local level."

But is a law like this a slippery slope? Could towns legislate out other groups of people they don't want?

Berkeley Brean: "Whether they're dangerous or not. If they look different, if they make less money, any number of things.

Senator Funke: "I don't believe in slippery slopes necessarily. This is a standalone issue. We're talking about sex offenders here. We're not talking about anyone else."

We looked at the bill. It specifically says restrictions for sex offenders. Kamp believes in second chances, but he also believes in boundaries especially when you have kids at the Penfield Little League fields every night of the week.

"Every Saturday and Sunday there are kids playing there," says Kamp. "I mean to me that temptation is way too great."

If you feel strongly about this you can do two things: First, contact State Senator Rich Funke's office (223-1800) and let him know what you think. Second, go to the public hearing on Penfield's Child Safety Act. It's Wednesday, March 4 at the Penfield Town Hall starting at 7 p.m. ..Source.. by Berkeley Brean

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