Archive for May 26, 2009

RI Replaces One Sex Offender Law With Another

May 26, 2009 Comments off (Providence, R.I.) – Senate bill would ban sex offenders from venues used by children.

Cranston — So far there’s been no silver-bullet resolution of the controversy over housing convicted sex offenders at a local homeless shelter, but the public outcry has prompted one response — a possible change in state law.

Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston, has sponsored a bill that would make it a felony for anyone convicted of first- or second-degree child molestation to set foot in a playground, daycare center or school.

If adopted, the bill would amend a law the General Assembly adopted only last year, eliminating language that bars convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of a school because the restriction was recently found to be unconstitutional.

The 2008 law was challenged by former Central Falls City Council member Luis Gil, who pleaded guilty in February to two counts of third-degree sexual assault. Gil argued, among other things, that the restriction amounted to an unconstitutional taking of his property because he would have been forced to move. Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. agreed, writing in his decision that the residency restriction amounts to a taking “without just and adequate compensation.”

Gallo said her bill is not a solution to the issue of sex offenders staying at Harrington Hall — a homeless shelter that is about a quarter-mile from a playground and about a half-mile from the nearest school. But she said it at least sets limits that do not exist in the current law and should act as a deterrent.

The bill calls for up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, if a convicted first- or second-degree child molester is found guilty of setting foot on one of the protected properties.

(Again, the government is banishing a group of citizens from public places)