Win in Wisconsin: A federal judge struck down a Pleasant Prairie ordinance restricting where individuals forced to sign the sex offense registry can live, ruling the ordinance unconstitutional. Laws like this are euphemistically known as ‘residency restrictions,’ but their purpose is banishment. Officials in Pleasant Prairie, short on humanity, had made just about the entire town off-limits, loosening the law only as a lawsuit loomed. The court’s opinion has plenty to say about ‘banishment’ and there’s even a fascinating chart which explains, chillingly, that under the law some, “Must leave the Village by Oct. 18, 2016, and may never return”, while others are simply “Permanently banned from the Village.” Located between Chicago and Milwaukee, Pleasant Prairie’s official website declares the town a “progressive municipality” with an array of “opportunities,” striving to “provide the best quality of life for our citizens.” No mention that anyone with a scarlet letter best hit the road. Congratulations to the nine plaintiffs who stood together fighting for their rights, and their Chicago legal eagles, Mark Weinberg and Adele Nicholas. There’s more, a jury trial for damages is coming up in several weeks so stay tuned. A Kenosha News report is linked below along with a smart on-point essay by Jesse Singal.
You can read the order below:
Kenosha News (Kenosha, WI) | Apr. 18, 2017
Judge finds sex offender ordinance unconstitutional
Village has loosened restrictions in response to suit
By Kevin Murphy
Excerpts: A federal judge Monday found unconstitutional Pleasant Prairie’s initial ordinance that largely banned registered child sex offenders from residing in the village. In granting summary judgment to the nine plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller found the village imposed restrictions on where the offenders could live without considering any studies or data regarding the safety risk that posed to other residents.
The result of the ordinance made 90 percent of the village off-limits to offenders, with the remaining 10 percent largely non-residential. Most of the low-income housing, which was all the plaintiffs could afford, was excluded.
Village Administrator Michael Pollocoff testified in a deposition that the ordinance’s goal was to reduce the number of child sex offenders living in the village. The ordinance may be counterproductive to citizen safety, as Pollocoff admitted that turning child sex offenders into outcasts had “more deleterious (or harmful) impacts.”
Mark Weinberg, a Chicago attorney who filed the suit, called the decision uncommon and important. “There are a lot of other communities in Kenosha County with similar ordinances. I hope this decision will encourage them to re-evaluate theirs,” he said. MORE:
New York Magazine | Aug. 25, 2014
There’s Literally No Evidence That Restricting Where Sex Offenders Can Live Accomplishes Anything
By Jesse Singal
The unfortunate thing about this situation is that laws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria. There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions and some degree of debate among experts, but this isn’t one of them. Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy: These laws don’t work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates. MORE: