Pay attention Miami.
The State’s Megan’s Law pre-empts local attempts to restrict where sex offenders can live.
(See the decision in G.H. v. Township of Galloway (SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLATE DIVISION, DOCKET NO. A-3235-06T1, July 15, 2008).
Over 100 New Jersey municipalities have enacted such restrictions.
The Florida connection. The Miami-Dade's Public Defender's Office is challenging the constitutionality of Miami-Dade's sex-offender residency ordinance, arguing it essentially banishes poor sex offenders from the county and, in some cases, leaves them homeless.
The office has offered up an unprecedented argument: that the county's ordinance, combined with numerous city ordinances, make it nearly impossible for sex offenders to find housing.A trial is scheduled on the issue for August.
State Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars filed a brief urging the appeals court to strike down the laws.
"You can't impose unrealistic burdens on people and expect them to reintegrate. They paid their debt to society and are under supervision," Segars said.
The Cherry Hill law was challenged by two sex offenders convicted of violating the law after being placed in a motel by welfare officers with the approval of their probation and parole officers. The two men were considered at moderate risk of committing another sex offense.
A 20-year-old college freshman at Richard Stockton College, in Galloway Township, challenged the law there after moving into a dormitory on campus. The student was considered a low-risk sex offender for an offense he committed when he was 15 against a 13-year-old girl.
“New Jersey towns cannot ban sex offenders from living near schools, parks, or other places where children gather, a state appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
“The three-judge panel found that New Jersey’s Megan’s Law was ‘pervasive and comprehensive’ and should be the only law governing how sex offenders are treated. The ruling upheld findings by judges who invalidated ordinances in Cherry Hill and Galloway townships."(...)
“The statutory and regulatory scheme, viewed in light of the exclusionary effect of the ordinances, provides strong evidence that the ordinances substantially interfere with the ability of parole officers to carry out their statutorily mandated function of finding the most appropriate housing for CSOs. In many cases, the most appropriate housing would be in a location prohibited by the residency restriction ordinances.” . .
” . . . We conclude that the residency restriction ordinances conflict with the policies and operational effect of the statewide scheme implemented by Megan’s Law, which was intended, both expressly and impliedly, to be exclusive in the field. The subject matter reflects a need for statewide uniformity. The scheme chosen by the Legislature, refined by the judiciary, and firmly entrenched for more than a decade on a uniform statewide basis, is pervasive and comprehensive, thus precluding the coexistence of municipal regulation. The ordinances interfere with and frustrate the purposes and operation of the statewide scheme.”
According to the Associated Press, in “N.J. towns’ sex-offender residency limits rejected” (AP/MSNBC.com, July 15, 2008)