Tuesday, March 26, 2013

WI - Panel recommends 1,000-foot sex offender buffer zones

Original Article

03/26/2013

By CARA SPOTO

RACINE - An ordinance proposal that would prevent violent or child sex offenders placed in Racine from residing within 1,000 feet of a location where children congregate is ready for final review.

Meeting Monday night at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., the Public Safety and Licensing Committee recommended that proposal be received and filed so that it could be sent to the City Council for referral back to committee.

The move essentially allows the proposal, which the committee has worked on for the past two months, to begin working its way through the City Council approval process.

The proposal was more of a rough draft two months ago. Today it’s a final draft.

It proposes that sex offenders located to Racine be banned from residing within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, library, park, playground or swimming pool. They would be banned from residing within 1,000 feet of a house of worship, but could attend services at one.

Such offenders would also be banned from participating in city events where more than one child is likely to be present, such as parades. Violent offenders or child sex offenders could not be located to Racine unless the crime he or she was convicted of occurred in Racine.

It would not apply to sex offenders who were minors themselves when they committed their offenses.

When the draft ordinance comes back to the committee for final review on April 8, the committee will hold a public hearing on the measure.

The committee doesn’t have to hold a public hearing on the proposal, but committee chairman Greg Helding said holding one would add legitimacy to the process.

I was just thinking it might make sense to have one for this ordinance, just because it is a hot-button issue,” Helding said Monday.

Once the hearing is over, the committee members can consider the public input, then vote on whether to recommend it to the City Council for final approval.

Committee member Molly Hall began working on the proposal earlier this year after violent sex offender [name withheld] was nearly relocated within blocks of a former victim’s West Racine residence.

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