This week the City Council approved a law to and public facilities like the community center.
During the meeting, directed some pointed questions about the new law to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose office had a hand in drafting the ordinance. also commented on the law, and her comments are included at the bottom of this article.
Here's a partial transcript of the proceedings:
Leckness: What about people saying they've already paid their debt to society? How do you pick this one field of people?
Rackauckas: We wanted to protect our kids, to have a place of safety where kids can have a place where they will not be observed, leered at and maybe groomed by sex offenders. People who commit sex crimes, they are a sexual crime and they tend to get those kinds of urges again. I think the danger is very real. I think we have to protect against sex offenders in a different way than people who commit other crimes.
Leckness: Aren't there already restrictions like this? Is there a time limit?
Rackauckas: Certainly not all sex offenses are the same. We've looked at, should we make distinctions? If a person has not commited a crime against a child, should that be the only one that is provided for? But it's really hard to make that kind of distinction. For instance if someone has been convicted of misdemeanor possession of child pornography, that's pretty serious stuff. Just having child pornography means you're looking at and enjoying and dwelling on the fact that some sexual crime has been committed against kids. I don't think we want someone who has just been convicted of misdemeanor possession of child pornography to be in the park, because that is the specific mental attitude or mental set we want to keep our kids safe from. I don't think it matters much if it's a misdemeanor or a felony.
What about a child versus an adult?
Rackauckas: I don't really think we should make that kind of distinction because there isn't anything that says a person who committed a sexual crime against an adult, that they won't at some other time commit a sexual offense against a child—particularly because it might be easier to commit a sexual offense against a child. We've had several cases where we've had sexual crimes against a child where that person had a background of rape, sexual crimes against adults.
What about minor, so-called Romeo and Juliet sex crimes?
Rackauckas: Those are not necessarily registerable sex offenses. That kind of crime is discretionary with the court, whether or not to register as a sex offender.
Rackauckas also said after time has passed, someone can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry.
Schlicht defended the law that she proposed, saying "It's very hard for a sexual offender to be rehabilitated. You can't compare them to a bank robber."
She said kids fail to distinguish between sexual offenders and other adult authority figures.
"Our children's constitutional rights far outweigh the constitutional rights of a sexual predator," Schlicht said.