February 12, 2016

NH House considers ban on sex offender residency restrictions

2-12-16 New Hampshire:

HB 1153 would prohibit towns or municipalities in New Hampshire from passing ordinances that restrict where registered sex offenders can reside. The bill is being considered by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday February 17. Currently, there are no state-level restrictions on where sex offenders may live.

Policies typically enacted by towns include barring sex offenders from living within a set distance of a school, day care center or playground.

The NH Civil Liberties Union has successfully challenged such ordinances in New Hampshire in the past, with courts striking down residency restrictions in Dover and Franklin, finding that there was no evidence that the restrictions increased public safety. Several other towns, however, still have residency restrictions in place.

Previous attempts at similar legislation include a 2014 attempt that passed the House but died in the Senate. A 2015 bill died in the House.

Another bill, HB 1390, would explicitly authorize towns to adopt sex offender residency restrictions.

Supporters of banning residency restrictions argue that such ordinances do not, in fact, make children more protected, and that the restrictions can make it very difficult for offenders to find a place to live and work, which increases the chances of recidivism. State police have also stated the laws drive offenders underground, making them more difficult to monitor.

Opponents argue that allowing cities and towns to set conditions on where sex offenders may reside helps protect vulnerable populations, and that towns should retain the right to decide for themselves if such a restriction is appropriate for their community. ..Source.. by LFDA Highlights

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