October 1, 2013

Wilton selectmen opt against sex offender residency restrictions

'Most recent data showed the residency ordinances might actually may be counterproductive to the outcome of keeping communities safer,' Selectwoman Tiffany Maiuri says in withdrawing proposal

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WILTON — Selectmen tonight decided against proposing an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from living in certain parts of town.

Selectwoman Tiffany Maiuri took back her suggestion from the last meeting to draft the proposed ordinance, saying after further research she decided an ordinance banning registered offenders from living near parks probably would be ineffective in preventing a sex offender from committing another crime.

Maiuri, who was elected to the board in June, said she suggested having the ordinance committee draft the proposed ordinance because she learned about sex offenders living near a town park.

Maiuri said the research showed offenders that commit additional sex offenses usually victimize people they know, not random children at the park. She added that an ordinance might give people a false sense of security.

Since proposing the ordinance, Maiuri said, she has been contacted by email and phone by many community residents with research supporting these conclusions.

"Most recent data showed the residency ordinances might actually may be counterproductive to the outcome of keeping communities safer," she said.

The other board members agreed to take no further action, effectively killing the proposal.

Maine's registration laws do not include any restrictions on where a person can live, according to the Maine Sex Offender Registry website.

If a person's sentence includes probation or supervised release, there may be special conditions about where that person may live, work, or travel, which could include areas such as schools or playgrounds.

Some Maine towns have ordinances limiting where convicted sex offenders may live. Those ordinances can apply only to persons convicted of class A, B or C felonies against children under 14, the registration website states.

There are 19 registrants in Wilton listed on the state sex offender registry.

There are 84 additional registrants listed within a 15-mile radius of the town.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said he estimates one or two dozen towns in the state have enacted ordinances that restrict where registered sex offenders are allowed to live.

Conrad said the towns are allowed to create ordinances restricting residency in certain parts of a municipality, such as near a nursing home or a school, but they are not allowed to pass restrictions to force registered sex offenders out of town.

"Reasonableness is a key component to an ordinance," he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

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