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Committee Rejects Residency Restrictions

September 12, 2009

WickedLocalPlymouth : Plymouth Finance Committee Rejects Residency Restrictions.

“It’s not where they live, it’s where they go, then?” Advisory and Finance Committee Chairman William Driscoll asked.

Robert Baker, retired director of operations at the Mass. Sex Offender Registry, and his wife, Debra, a licensed mental health counselor who works to rehabilitate sex offenders, offered a different perspective on the issue and shared their knowledge and experience with the Advisory and Finance Committee Wednesday night.

The Bakers say adopting a no-loitering bylaw to restrict where sex offenders go could be effective, but restricting where they live to such a severe extent will result in more homeless offenders who police won’t be able to track.

Police Chief Michael Botieri and the Bakers say they’re concerned the sweeping residency restriction selectmen propose simply won’t work. Botieri noted that the majority of sex offender crimes and abductions do not take place in the sex offender’s home.

There is no law prohibiting a Level 3 sex offender from sitting on a park bench, visiting a playground or loitering in a park or at a senior complex. If Plymouth is sincerely concerned about increasing the safety of its citizens, the town ought to consider a no-loitering bylaw instead of the residency restriction, the Bakers said. Restricting where these offenders can go is the key, they said, to increasing safety. As it stands, police can only notify schools and organizations that a Level 3 sex offender has been frequenting the area; police can’t arrest the offender unless a probation violation has occurred.

The Advisory and Finance Committee voted unanimously not to recommend Town Meeting approve the proposed residency restriction for Level 3 sex offenders.

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