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Legislature Debates Sex Offender Restrictions
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A Hartford legislator wants a new law that says registered sex offenders can’t live within 2,000 feet of schools.  But state public safety officials oppose the legislation. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.

Hartford police say that 96 percent of the city’s 568 registered sex offenders live within 2,000 feet of a city school.  And state Representative Kelvin Roldan would like that to change.  He says that the state’s cities are packed with sex offenders, and it’s the state’s fault.

“The state of Connecticut is abdicating its responsibility from the perspective of not providing the necessary services and supports for these individuals. They’re just shipping them out to the cities and the cities are ending up basically taking the burden.”

Roldan has proposed a bill that would make it illegal for registered sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of a school or a day care center. The bill would not force registered sex offenders to move if they already live within the boundaries before the law is enacted.

But Public Safety Commissioner John Danaher said he sees a problem with the proposed restriction.

“Within the cities, it’s our belief and expectation that that would create almost no place that they could live.  And the consequence, we are aware of from other states is that they then tend to go underground, they don’t registrar at all. So it actually defeats the purpose of maintaining the registry.  The purpose of the registry is to let you know where they are."

Danaher said that the proposed law wouldn't stop sex offenders from loitering around schools – something judges already have the authority to restrict.  Another point is that not all sex offenders committed crimes involving children. 

But Roldan says children are at risk as the city's are populated with sex offenders from across the state.

“When you look at the number of individuals that are registered sex offenders in  Hartford – we’re talking about 10 percent of the total registry across the state of Connecticut.  And, of those, over 60 percent come from somewhere else other than Hartford.”
 
Roldan said the legislature’s judiciary committee will continue discussion on the bill.

For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.