Posted Sep 30, 2011 05:52 pm CDT
Many cities and towns have passed laws banning registered sex offenders from hanging out in places where children are known to congregate, like playgrounds and community swimming pools.
But Huachuca City, Ariz., is going boldly where no other municipality apparently has gone before: It has just approved an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from all public facilities, including schools, parks, libraries, pools, gymnasiums and sports facilities.
“As a town and as a community, we have to protect our children. As a council, we have to make the right calls,” Mayor Byron Robertson told KGUN9 News. “Our police chief indicated that we were having a serious problem with some pedophiles that were being a nuisance and we took steps to overcome that.”
The ordinance, which is set to take effect in late October, creates “child safety zones” where registered sex offenders will not be allowed to go. The zones effectively cover all public facilities, though the law makes exceptions for those who are picking up their children, voting in an election or meeting with someone to discuss their child’s health or education.
First-time offenders will be fined $100. Repeat offenders will be charged with trespassing.
Robertson said the town attorney modeled the ordinance after bans in other cities, which courts have ruled constitutional.
“It’s a bold step hopefully many will follow,” he said.
It’s also a “uniquely broad” one, says Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman, who took note of the city’s move on his Sentencing Law & Policy blog.