Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MA - New Milford bylaw looks to restrict sex offenders

Original Article

02/12/2013

By Lindsay Corcoran

MILFORD - While a bylaw can’t prohibit sex offenders from moving into town, a new bylaw proposed by Police Chief Tom O’Loughlin may discourage them from moving here.

O’Loughlin told selectmen at their Monday night meeting that he wrote the bylaw after he heard from a couple of sex offenders registering in Milford that they had moved out of towns with a bylaw with sex offender restrictions.

It’s to manage their living here,” O’Loughlin said. “It manages where they can live in the community and on what conditions.”
- So he's basically admitting the law is for additional punishment?

There are currently 77 sex offenders who are required to register in Milford, including 15 registered at the highest level, Level 3, 44 at Level 2, 16 at Level 1 and two who have not yet been classified.

The issue we face is that the registry board is simply that, there are no restrictions on them at all,” O’Loughlin said. “They can live right next to an elementary school or right across the street from a town park.”
- As they should be able to, just like you and all other ex-felons!

Only parole or probation can prohibit sex offenders generally, but O’Loughlin said that’s rare.

Most of these people have served their sentence and they’re done,” O’Loughlin said.
- True, and yet you want to punish them even more?

With O’Loughlin’s proposed bylaw, sex offenders would be prohibited from living near, entering into or loitering near schools, day cares, libraries, recreation facilities, elderly housing units and facilities for people with an intellectual disability.

The bylaw would apply specifically to Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, since they pose the greatest risk of re-offending.
- This is not necessarily true.  People are placed into tiers based on a label, not their history.  So you could have some tier 1 offenders who are more dangerous than tier 3's.

O’Loughlin said he wrote the bylaw after looking at 21 other bylaws from Massachusetts cities and towns and six from outside the state.

There are exceptions and exemptions, including current sex offenders living in one of these areas that will be grandfathered in.

The law will allow Milford police officers to fine and otherwise penalize those sex offenders not in compliance. In some cases, O’Loughlin said they could be criminally charged.

It’s a very well written bylaw, I just want to be convinced that, in fact, we need it,” said selectmen Chairman Brian Murray. “Obviously it’s a very important issue…to me these blanket bylaws, while certainly well-intentioned and targeted at vast majority - also scoops up these other people that get placed into this category for various purposes. It’s very onerous.”
- Exactly, and they are not needed.  This is just some idiotic sheriff trying to make a name for himself.

Murray asked for more information about the numbers of sex offenders moving into the community and how many other communities have this bylaw before moving forward with it.

At their meeting Monday night, selectmen also approved going ahead with a bylaw that would prevent the sale of alcohol at venues with an adult entertainment license. For more on that bylaw, see tomorrow’s edition of the Daily News.

Both bylaws will be brought to the annual Town Meeting this spring for approval.



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