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April 18, 2017

US District Court finds multiple constitutional problems with local banishment of sex offenders

As reported in this local article from Wisconsin, a "federal judge Monday found unconstitutional Pleasant Prairie’s initial ordinance that largely banned registered child sex offenders from residing in the village."  Here is more about the context and the US District Court's ruling:

The village amended its ordinance three months after the offenders filed suit in June 2016, but U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller ruled that did not make moot the issues the offenders raised with the first ordinance.

In granting summary judgment to the nine plaintiffs, Stadtmueller found the village imposed restrictions on where the offenders could live without considering any studies or data regarding the safety risk that posed to other residents. “The village has admitted that the ordinance was based on its own conjecture about the dangers posed by sex offenders,” Stadtmueller wrote in the 19-page order.

Village Administrator Michael Pollocoff testified in a deposition that the ordinance’s goal was to reduce the number of child sex offenders living in the village. The ordinance may be counterproductive to citizen safety, as Pollocoff admitted that turning child sex offenders into outcasts had “more deleterious (or harmful) impacts.”...

Stadtmueller rejected the village’s claim that the new ordinance made a suit challenging the old one moot, stating the plaintiffs’ claims that they suffered stress as a result of the threat posed by the initial ordinance, the fear of homelessness and the difficulties in attempting to find a new residence. The plaintiffs can pursue damages on those claims at trial, which Stadtmueller set for May 15.

Mark Weinberg, a Chicago attorney who filed the suit, called the decision uncommon and important. “There are a lot of other communities in Kenosha County with similar ordinances. I hope this decision will encourage them to re-evaluate theirs,” he said.

Weinberg has a similar suit against the city of Kenosha ordinance pending in federal court, which he said “is more restrictive” than Pleasant Prairie’s initial ordinance. That suit is still in the discovery stage, he said....

Pollocoff acknowledged that the village amended its initial ordinance in response to the suit Weinberg brought and that no sex offenders had been cited under the ordinance.

The amended ordinance lowered the 3,000-foot prohibited zone to 1,500 feet, which still makes 60 percent of the village and 75 percent of the residences off limits to offenders.

The full ruling in this case can be downloaded here:  Download Stadtmueller SJ decison Pleasant Prairie

April 18, 2017 at 04:55 PM | Permalink

Comments

Problem. About 90% of rapists of children, as in forcible rape, live in the home of the child or are invited into the home, as members of or friends of the family.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 19, 2017 1:44:28 AM

Turning ex-sex offenders into residential outcasts has deleterious effects not only for law-abiding citizens, but for law enforcement personnel themselves. Some offenders might defy these ordinances by refusing to move out and by barricading their property, daring anybody to come in and force them out. Creating more situations that lead to shoot-outs with police does not make the general public, much less law enforcement personnel any safer.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Apr 19, 2017 9:29:05 AM

In my finest legal interpretation (it doesn't really pay to use more brain cells wrt the law as currently practiced than necessary):

"Uh-Duh!" No kidding.

Posted by: albeed | Apr 19, 2017 3:48:06 PM

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