June 19, 2017

Communities reviewing sexual offender ordinances in wake of federal ruling

6-19-17 Wisconsin:

RACINE COUNTY — At least three communities in Racine County are reviewing their sex offender residency ordinances after a federal judge found that similar rules in Pleasant Prairie were unconstitutional.

In recent weeks, the villages of Caledonia and Waterford, and the Town Yorkville have discussed tweaking their ordinances in the wake of the ruling, and pending legal challenges in other municipalities, including the City of Milwaukee.

Caledonia Village Trustee Kevin Wanggaard, who serves as the chairman of the village’s Legislative and Licensing Committee, said examining their ordinance makes sense in light of the recent ruling.

“We try to get out in front of these things,” Wanggaard said. “It’s about making sure our citizens are safe, and making sure we are doing what we need to do to be lawful.”

Civil rights

At issue with the ordinances under review are buffer zones that limit where registered sex offenders can live. Pleasant Prairie’s ordinance originally banned any sex offender from living within 3,000 feet of a school, park, day care or other area where children congregate. Also under review are “original domicile” restrictions that ban sex offenders from moving to a municipality if they didn’t live there when their crime was committed.

U.S. District Judge J. P. Stadtmueller ruled in April that such restrictions in Pleasant Prairie essentially banished sex offenders without providing clear evidence that the restrictions would protect their citizenry. ..Continued..

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