At its May Council meeting, city council members of Marine on St. Croix voted to disallow registered sex offenders from moving into the community pending the development of a sex offender residency ordinance. 

The need for a moratorium, or an ordinance, had not previously been discussed at a Council meeting, so community members were likely unaware of what was being voted upon, or the intent of a future ordinance. 

The legislation was introduced by council member Charlie Anderson, a homicide detective for the City of St. Paul, in response to a recent incident in Stillwater. A level 3 sex offender previously convicted for possession of child pornography, moved to a residence within blocks of a middle school, a K-8 Catholic school, an ECFE facility, and three churches. 

“City officials in Stillwater felt blindsided,” Anderson said. “Many people think there are regulations in place (about where sex offenders can live) at the state level, but there are not. This is decided at the local level. Stillwater didn’t have any mechanisms in place to control the situation. I would not want to see Marine in the same situation that Stillwater is in without have had a proactive conversation.”

Ninety municipalities in Minnesota and many communities across the country have adopted residency restriction ordinances. Some of those ordinances have been challenged and thrown out by the courts. 

According to the Star Tribune, a class action lawsuit was filed in February against the City of Apple Valley for an ordinance that made 90 percent of its residential properties out-of-bounds to registered sex offenders returning to the community.

The moratorium places a one-year ban on residency for people convicted of a “designated sexual offense” or who are required to register as a predatory offender or designated a Level 3 sex offender (most likely to reoffend). The moratorium language listed a variety of sexual offenses against a victim under the age of 16, as well as child pornography offenses and indecent exposure. 

While the moratorium gives the Marine City Council a year to develop an ordinance, Anderson hopes to have the language of an ordinance finalized in a month or two. 

When asked if he was concerned about legal challenges like those in the pending Apple Valley case, Anderson said he believed their ordinance was too broad. 

“If you are going to put that much (housing) off-limits, it had better be for a very small, well defined group,” he said. 

The ordinance being considered for Marine would be tailored specifically to people designated as high-risk Level 3 sex offenders convicted of non-familial sexual contact with a minor, or of possession, production or distribution of child pornography. 

“I am not proposing a one-size-fits-all solution,” Anderson said. “I think this is a more evidence-based approach.”

In fact, Anderson believes it has the potential to become a model ordinance that other communities may look to in future. 

In addition to being tightly targeted, it is likely that the proposed ordinance will restrict a registered sex offender to a residence (owned or rented) more than 1,500 feet away from a school, preschool, daycare center, public park or church with children’s’ programming. 

Those already residing in the community before the moratorium or ordinance is put in place are grandfathered in. Anderson knew of no sex offenders currently residing in the community.

Also, a person returning to the community to live with parents is banned by the moratorium but may not be by the ordinance. Anderson explained that this situation is usually handled differently. 

“I think this is a very reasonable approach to safeguarding the interest of children for the public good,” Anderson said.

(1) comment

Vicki Henry

Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders. According to the NCMEC’s last published figures there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register. The NCMEC has ceased publishing the number of registered citizens as it will soon top 1,000,000. The "crimes" range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant. Professionals indicate 3 things are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12-page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.

ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. (Google: Frightening and High)

A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:

a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;

b) 34.2% were family members;

c) 58.7% were acquaintances;

d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;

e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;

f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

There is a tremendous need to fund programs like "Stop It Now" that teaches parents how to begin and maintain a dialog with their children to intervene before harm occurs and about grooming behaviors as well as other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin? When are those required to register given their lives back without the stigma and hate?

We support the principles of Restorative/Transformative Justice; restore the victim, restore the offender AND restore the community. Unfortunately, our justice systems, federal and some states, prefer to annihilate human beings using mandatory minimum sentences, leaving our families destitute for years or decades and call that justice.

Our country is evidently proud to be 'the incarceration nation' with 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated.

Here is an example of how our families are harmed. A well-meaning teacher printed out profile pictures of local registrants and put them on the board around the classroom. She promoted her effort to protect her students by suggesting they look at and remember those people. One student pointed at one picture and said, "Katie isn't that your dad?" It was....

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