September 9, 2015

Waltham councilor wants to reverse sex offender decision

9-8-15 Massachusetts:

Waltham City Councilor Robert Logan was dismayed late last month when the state’s high court took power away from cities and towns in setting limits on sex offender residency.

The ruling stated that local towns and cities could no longer ban sex offenders from living near a school or playground.

Logan, who wrote Waltham’s sex offender ordinance, was one of many who were upset by the decision.

“I think local communities should decide how they want to (regulate sex offenders),” he said. “It’s a matter of protecting the community and protecting the most vulnerable.”

He said while others have argued that sex offenders can be successfully reintroduced into society and be productive members of a community, he remains skeptical.

“I don’t think these people can be cured,” he said, referring to Level 3 offenders. “I think they are re-offenders waiting to happen.”

The Supreme Judicial Court unanimous decision compared the treatment of sex offenders to that of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“Except for the incarceration of persons under the criminal law and the civil commitment of mentally ill or dangerous persons, the days are long since past when whole communities of persons, such as Native Americans and Japanese-Americans, may be lawfully banished from our midst,” wrote Justice Geraldine S. Hines.

Those in favor of the SJC’s decision say that there is little evidence showing that restricting sex offender residency makes a community safer, and by making it more difficult for past offenders to find work or housing, the chances of them offending again could actually increase.

There are 15 Level 3 sex offenders in Waltham, according to the city’s website.

Waltham’s regulations prohibited a registered Level 3 sex offender from living within 500 feet from any school, daycare facility, park, recreational facility, elderly housing facility or facility for the mentally disabled.

In his resolution to the Waltham City Council, which will be presented on Monday, Sept. 14, Logan calls on the state to re-institute local rules in order to “protect neighborhoods and residents from sexual predators.”

There are 49 communities with sex offender ordinances that will be preempted by the SJC decision.

Logan’s resolution asks the council to call on Gov. Charlie Baker and both houses of the state legislature to either adopt statewide regulations setting limits for sex offenders, or pass legislation restoring the power to communities to set their own guidelines. ..Source.. by Ignacio Laguarda

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