our current sex offender residency ordinance

In 2010, our city council created a sex offender residency ordinance, restricting to only certain parts of the city where registered sex offenders can live. I very much disagreed with the creation of this ordinance, and I spoke about my position at the city council’s April 7, 2010 meeting. The general feeling is that if we restrict where sex offenders live, our city will be safer. While that may seem to make sense on the surface, it’s simply not true, not according to the experts anyway.

Tom Smith, the Sex Offender Registry Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections told our city council that such ordinances don’t work. They only cause offenders to go underground and we lose track of them. Smith said that the best way to reduce recidivism is to keep track of registered sex offenders, know where they are and make sure they get the help they need. There is no evidence that restricting where they live makes a community safer.

Our city council put the cart before the horse. They were presented with an important issue, how to keep our city safe with registered sex offenders living among us. They saw what other municipalities like Green Bay were doing and decided to do the same. But they never even asked Green Bay for data that shows that what they’re doing is working. They made a decision, without any research and against the advice of the expert, that such an ordinance will make us safer.

So now it’s 2012. Having such an ordinance on the books has not made me feel any safer. One good thing to come of this is that we now have the experience of having such an ordinance. We should now look at the data and determine if it’s working.

Let’s follow the advice of the expert along with the knowledge from our own experience, instead of just copying whatever Green Bay is doing.

Please contact me and let me know how you feel.