HB1484 (2010)

The case against sex offender residency laws

Work for Smarter Criminal Laws

State House Alert Number Nine • April 12, 2010

By Chris Dornin

Residency restrictions on sex offenders harm kids

Please testify at a Senate hearing April 20 at 2:30 PM in room 103 of the State House for a bill that bars towns from imposing residency restrictions against sex offenders. The legislation, HB1484, runs counter to a 20-year American tradition of rushing sex offender laws to signature while the community still grieves a major crime against a child. The act of legislation becomes almost a memorial rite while the rage is fresh and the voters remember.

That’s where statutes named for Adam Walsh, Megan Kanka, and Jacob Wetterling came from. Florida’s draconian sex offender law passed without serious opposition in June of 2005, three months after the back-to-back lurid murders of Sarah Lunde and Jessica Lunsford. A dozen states soon copied the Florida lead, including New Hampshire.

Powerful Florida lobbyist Ron Book pushed a related residency restriction through his state legislature with little opposition after he learned his grade-school daughter had been raped repeatedly, threatened, and physically abused by her live-in nanny for several years. The resulting statute, based on one horrific case, had nothing to do with the law it triggered. Several New Hampshire towns have copied that residency law.

Here’s an unwritten and dubious rule of State Houses. Reps and senators show weakness, even disrespect for victims, when they ponder too long the possible costs and bad results of a sex offender bill. But the research is abundantly clear. One of the worst practices is a residency restriction against New Hampshire sex offenders like the Dover ordinance found unconstitutional last August. In the first year it drove most of the registered sex offenders elsewhere.

Kill HB1628 before it gets someone killed

Work for Smarter Criminal Laws

State House Alert Number Eight • April 11, 2010

By Chris Dornin

Mark April 20 on your calendar, the showdown on sex offender bills. All of our freedoms are at risk.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hears citizen testimony the afternoon of April 20 on two House bills that would have huge impact on all registered sex offenders and their families. You who are reading this need to be there to stand up for their rights and your own.

The public hearing starts at 2:30 PM in room 103 of the State House for the best sex offender legislation in years, HB1484. You should plan to arrive half an hour early to make sure you have a seat. Hearings on other less crucial crime bills will begin at 2:00 PM.

Why is HB1484 so important? It would stop towns from passing residency restrictions against people on the Internet public registry run by the State Police. The Dover District Court decided last August that a similar city ordinance against sex offenders violated basic property rights. The bill easily passed in the House with support from the Manchester Police, the Department of Safety, Child and Family Services, and the Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The very next hearing in room 103 is for HB1628, meant to give neighborhoods the green light to drive sex offenders and their loved ones out of town by shunning, stalking, and shaming them. Two police chiefs have told me privately they fear HB1628 could get sex offenders killed amid the widespread hysteria against them. It will ramp up the pressure on an unpopular minority already tyrannized by the majority.

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