Town Proposes Banning Sex Offenders From City Parks

Town Proposes Banning Sex Offenders From City Parks

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John Daley reporting Should registered sex offenders be banned from city parks? That's the proposal from one town in Davis County, though some wonder if it's more of a Band-Aid than an effective crime-fighting tool.

The state keeps a list of registered sex offenses. Now the Clinton City council is considering a new ordinance which would ban any one on this list from the city's parks.

For parents, Florida's Jessica Lunsford story is the nightmare scenario. The girl was kidnapped and killed. A registered sex offender later confessed to the crime. That case led one Clinton City councilman to propose a new ordinance banning registered sex offenders from city parks, and to keep 100 feet away from city property unless visiting city hall, the police or fire department on official business.

Paul Ray/ Clinton City Councilman: "If you're a sexual predator, stay away from our kids. We don't want you in our parks. We want you to stay away from children. If you're going to live in our community, that's fine. Abide by the laws. Here's a new law. You know you can't come into the parks and you can't come into areas where children are gathering."

The measure appears popular though some wonder how enforceable it is.

Chris Erhart/ Parent: "I think it is a good idea for the safety of the kids. I mean, the kids need to have a safe place to play. Sex offenders is something that's a real worry to me."

Kadie Fowers/ Parent: "It would keep the bad people out of our parks and keep our kids safe."

Justin Starkey/ Parent: "It's like are you going to have police here every day watching for those sex offenders? But how are you going to prevent it?"

Salt Lake civil rights attorney Brian Barnard raises some red flags.

He says the registry includes everything from serious crimes to relatively minor offenses, without distinguishing who might be most likely to reoffend.

Brian Barnard, attorney:"I think our children need to be protected. I think if our children are at risk we need to take some action to protect them. I don't know that this kind of an ordinance is the right way of doing it."

Barnard says this might make it harder for offenders who've served their time to successfully reenter society.

Brian Barnard/ Attorney: "Those people are going to be punished far beyond what our legislature said they should be punished for."

"It's not a right to go to a park, it's a privilege. And what we're saying, if you've committed a crime against somebody of a sexual offense, you don't have that right any more, or that privilege."

The vote on this issue happens tomorrow night.

Paul Ray is also a state lawmaker. He says he plans to propose a new bill in the legislature next session. It would require registered sex offenders to receive a different colored license plate.

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