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Senate passes bill to restrict where New Jersey sex offenders live

A bill was passed by the New Jersey state Senate last Thursday that would allow mayors across the state to restrict how close registered sex offenders could live from schools and playgrounds. The bill passed 33-0, but there is a possibility that it could be unconstitutional. The state Senate proposed and passed the bill because the state Supreme Court ruled two years ago that mayors who had already been restricting where sex offenders live were not acting under the power of any state law.

According to The Star-Ledger, Senate bill S837 will allow mayors to impose buffer zones around places where children congregate, such as playgrounds, schools and daycare centers. All sex offenders could be prohibited by a town from living within 500 feet of any of these places, including juveniles convicted of sex crimes.

According to The Star-Ledger, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others are questioning whether this is really an effective method for preventing recidivism by sex offenders or whether it is even constitutional to punish a person after they have already served time in jail or on parole for their crime.

In New Jersey, sex offenders are already closely monitored by parole agents. Some studies have shown that being overly restrictive about where sex offenders live can actually lead to homelessness and cause sex offenders to be more transient. 

Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester) sponsored the bill in the state Senate and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) is sponsoring the bill in the lower house.


N.J. bill restricting where sex offenders can live advances (The Star-Ledger)

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