Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TX - City to vote on sex offender park ban

Public park
Original Article

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By Cory Smith

Police chief to decide which offenders are exempt

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio City Council will vote Thursday on an ordinance that bans adult registered sex offenders from entering into city parks.

Registrants would not be allowed to loiter within 300 feet of a park or live within 1,000 feet of a park unless they already do.

The ban will not apply to juvenile offenders.

Common sense is that you're always aware of your surroundings, but at the same time, if we know there’s a potentially dangerous individual in the park and we can remove that person, that improves safety,” said District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules. “I'm sure police are going to know the worst-case offenders by sight and at that point they'll be able to remove them.”

The portion of the River Walk between Lexington Avenue and Alamo Street will be included in the ban, but only at the river level, not the street level.

Critics of the ban argue that it will have unintended consequences.

We know from research and statistics that these type of restrictions don’t work,” said Mary Sue Mulnar, executive director of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice.

Mulnar’s organization advocates for the promotion of common-sense and research-based laws involving registered sex offenders.

We are receiving calls from registrants. They’re inquiring about waiting at bus stops for their busses. They're asking about taking their children to the park. They’re asking about working near a park. It’s already created a lot of confusion,” she said.

Exemptions from the ordinance will be offered on a case-by-case basis.

Registered offenders must write a letter explaining why the policy will cause unnecessary hardship and ask for an exemption.

The policy’s current draft says the chief of the San Antonio Police Department will determine who receives an exemption.

A public hearing is not mandatory and the decision is final.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a situation where the police chief also acted as judge and jury,” Mulnar said. “I don't see how anything can be determined by a letter. So it could come down to who is the better letter writer.”

The law will not go into effect until the first quarter of 2014 and Soules said that should give the city enough time to iron out the details surrounding the exemption process.

We’re going through the process over the next 90 days to look at, specifically, if there's a more detailed way to look at (exemptions),” he said.

Soules said the time between the vote and when the law goes into effect will also allow the city to determine the proper park signage and work on a public education campaign to inform offenders of the new law.

Soules said more than 100 municipalities in Texas have similar laws, but San Antonio would by far be the largest to do so.

Mulnar believes much more research is needed before a vote, but she said city council members haves been unresponsive to the information her organization has sent to them.

They have a responsibility to fully inform every registrant,” she said.

The city will vote on the issue during their regularly scheduled A-Session meeting on Thursday at 9 a.m. inside City Hall.

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getting closer to the street said...

If fifteen year old girls can get birth control over the counter without parental consent . Then the private grantors should appliy condoms to the list of medical expences . With this study its unclear if the contact is between inmates or correctional employees , with inmates . Reduce the STD 's rate , or not depending on prison population ? Its not a law to test for aids , but is for TB testing . And as we learn the age of consent for sex with a minor fifteen ?, why would they need birth control behind their parents back that concludes rape . That fills our jails ? I guess after thirteen years the WCL has failed and the project should be canceled . Government Shut down . National debt reduction .

NJ45143112 said...

Excuse me a sec...
"Common sense...?"
Is this guy serious or just plain stupid?
In the first place, if he had done any research at all, he would have noted that our resident moron, Tony Rackaukus (Orange County, CA) already tried this nonsense and got shot down due to legal fees that the cities were unwilling to put up when sued by offenders on Constitutional rights.
Also, and this is the worst statement, "I'm sure the police will no the worst offenders on sight." Are you kidding? With thousands of people per square mile and parks being only a small portion of the ground they must cover, it's unlikely that a cop will be in the park at any given time and that they will recognize anybody that doesn't have a sign pasted on their back!
It's one thing to be ignorant but this guy should have spent less time getting drunk and tipping cows as a youth and learned to do a little research and speak intelligently!
Common sense, indeed!

Mark said...


Anonomys said...

All offenders in San Antonio shold find out what portion of thier taxes go to upkeep on the parks and subtract that from their tax bill. Since they receive no value in return for the funds paid.

nathan rabalais said...

It's good to see so many positive comments on the article haven't read them all but from what I've read they looked great