Saturday, March 16, 2013

ME - Legislative committee approves change to sex offender residency law

Original Article


By Susan M. Cover

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to recommend passage of L.D. 498, preventing sex offenders from residing near Capitol Area Recreation Association ball fields

AUGUSTA - A change to state law to prevent sex offenders from living within 750 feet of the Capitol Area Recreation Association ball fields on the city’s east side earned unanimous approval Friday from a legislative committee.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to recommend passage of L.D. 498 (PDF), which is sponsored by Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta.

After discussion, the committee amended the bill so that it’s narrowly tailored to address the specific situation in Augusta.

The change, if approved by the full Legislature, will allow the City Council to expand an ordinance it adopted in January that prohibits sex offenders from living within 750 feet of any municipal property where children are the primary users. The ordinance did not cover the CARA fields because they are not owned by the city but are state-owned property that is leased by a nonprofit.

The amended bill would address just that: state-owned property leased by a nonprofit that is open to the public and is a park or athletic facility where children are the primary users.

I want to address it as narrowly as possible,” said Sen. Gary Plummer, R-Windham. “Frankly, I don’t think residency requirements help at all.”

Opponents to the bill who testified last week argued that residency restrictions don’t work because they push sex offenders into other communities and because these types of offenses are usually committed against family members, not strangers.

Although he agreed with the opponents and Plummer, Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, voted in support of the bill because he wanted to respond to the concerns expressed by the city of Augusta.

Last week, three city councilors asked lawmakers to make the change to keep sex offenders from living near the fields which are between Hospital Street and Cony Road.

Thousands of children from across the state come to the fields every year for baseball, softball and soccer tournaments.

I think these kind of restrictions are an illusion,” said Dion, former Cumberland County Sheriff.
- Then why did you vote to approve them?

However, I am influenced by Sen. Plummer. I respect the municipality of Augusta.”
- So just because you respect someone doesn't mean you should agree to a bad law!

1 comment :

johnnyb3443 said...

You're absolutely right but the problem with residency laws is simple and effective because there's nothing to stop them from going there anyway they just can't live near there the worst thing that happens to them is if a cop shows up is that there ordered to leave but it doesn't mean they won't return California tried this and the only thing it did was drawn more the people they didn't want so no matter where the city moves them they'll wind up someplace nobody wants them, and what's worse a lot of these residency restriction laws makes them transient and who knows they may be at these politicians back door.