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July 16, 2008

New Jersey court rejects municipal sex offender residency restriction

As detailed in this Newark Star Ledger article, a state intermediate appeals court ruled yesterday that local towns cannot enact their own sex offender restrictions within New Jersey.  Here are details:

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel said Megan's Law is the exclusive law governing the treatment of sex offenders.  Municipal ordinances restricting where they can live "interfere with and frustrate" statewide efforts to monitor offenders and reintegrate them into society, the judges said.

"The far-reaching scope of Megan's Law and its multilayered enforcement and monitoring mechanisms constitute a comprehensive system chosen by the Legislature to protect society from the risk of reoffense" by convicted sex offenders "and to provide for their rehabilitation and reintegration in the community," wrote Appellate Division Judge Joseph Lisa.

The ruling invalidated ordinances in Galloway and Cherry Hill that said sex offenders couldn't live within 2,500 feet of various places where "children might congregate."  It is expected to nullify similar measures in roughly 100 other towns, including Sparta, Harmony and Cranford.

A lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Galloway, said it will appeal to the state Supreme Court, arguing there is no conflict with Megan's Law.  Towns have the right to control where sex offenders live, said Vincent McCarthy, whose center is based in Washington.  A spokesman for Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt, Dan Keashen, said the township passed its ordinance "to provide extra protections to our families and children and to provide tighter restrictions to an existing state law."

Officials in towns with similar laws said they were disappointed. "I believe the state continues to have a greater interest in protecting the rights of the pedophiles than the victim," said Cranford Committeeman Michael Plick, who sponsored his township's ordinance two years ago.

The New Jersey League of Municipalities sent a letter to its members Tuesday advising that any such law on the books is now unenforceable.  League officials said they will lobby legislators to adopt a statewide residency restriction such as the ones upheld by courts in Iowa and Illinois.

Corey Yung at Sex Crimes has more on the ruling in this post and he provides this link to the opinion.

July 16, 2008 at 07:59 AM | Permalink

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Comments

This is one of those cases that is best defended by the ACLU since they have a bad name already. And I forgot who but some Admin that got busted for child porn while advocating for sex offender rights.

Posted by: | Jul 17, 2008 10:58:07 PM

"Officials in towns with similar laws said they were disappointed. "I believe the state continues to have a greater interest in protecting the rights of the pedophiles than the victim," said Cranford Committeeman Michael Plick, who sponsored his township's ordinance two years ago."

THIS is the problem with these idiots who enact these laws. Rather than say "We have studies that prove that residency restrictions prevent sexual reoffense, and so this law was for the good of our citizens" they say "THE STATE IS RUN BY A BUNCH OF PEDO RIGHTS ACTIVISTS!!! WAAAAHHHH!"

Probably because the studies on sex offenders show that residency restrictions have the OPPOSITE EFFECT. Oops.

Posted by: The Angry Offender | Jul 26, 2008 7:17:31 PM

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