Legislation Banning Sex Offenders To Be Reintroduced
January 05, 2011
State Rep. Kelvin Roldan said he plans to resurrect a bill that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a city elementary or secondary school, a measure that didn't make it out of the legislature's judiciary committee last year.
This time, Roldan has revised the bill to apply to sex offenders who have sexually assaulted a minor. The original bill banned all sex offenders — regardless of the specific crime — from living within 2,000 feet of a school. Because there are so many schools in Hartford, it would have been virtually impossible for offenders to live there.
Roldan, D-Hartford, said he will introduce the amended legislation within the first few days of the legislative session, which begins today.
"Last year's bill was very broad in scope," Roldan said Tuesday. "This one, in its intent and direction, only targets individuals that have committed sex crimes against minors."
As of Dec. 31, 2010, 594 registered sex offenders were living in Hartford, police said. Of those, 200 to 250 have committed sex crimes against children, Roldan pointed out.
"I think it creates a more compelling argument," he said of the amended bill. "The stroke was so broad [in the original measure], I think it was hard for people to get their heads around it. My intent was to narrow the scope and have more constructive conversation."
During testimony before the judiciary committee last year, several people spoke out against the bill, including members of the nonprofit Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication for the organization, said Tuesday that although the new legislation has some positive changes, her group probably would still oppose it.
"When you make it difficult for sex offenders to have a stable home, you increase the number of them who register as transient or disappear," she said. "Those are the offenders that pose more of a risk to children and the community as a whole."
States that have similar laws, like California, Florida and Iowa, have reported difficulty in keeping track of sex offenders, Doroghazi said.
"In theory it's a great idea, but in practice we don't believe it keeps people safe," she said.
But others have already announced their support of the new measure.
"The reintroduction of this legislation is paramount to the safety of the citizens and our youth, and I support the bill," Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said.
Schools Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the issue is important to many parents whose children attend city schools.
"Just over 11 percent of the state's sex offenders live in Hartford," he said. "I don't think this would be tolerated in any of the suburbs. It should not be tolerated for Hartford children and families, either."
If the bill is passed, the restrictions would not apply to sex offenders who already live in permanent housing within the restricted zone. It would target anyone living in a temporary shelter with 60- and 90-day housing limits and any offender who moves into the city after the legislation goes into effect.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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