Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ban On Pedophiles Mulled

City officials want to ban pedophiles from living or loitering near schools, playgrounds and other places where children gather.

A proposed new law is modeled on one passed in Cranford, Councilman Rashid Burney said. The Plainfield version calls for registered sex offenders to keep 2,500 feet away from 88 locations including day care centers, schools, parks, playgrounds and school bus stops. According to a map of the sites, pedophiles would in effect be banned from the entire city.

The council discussed the proposed map and ordinance Monday (Aug. 21, 2006) but after Burney requested some changes, it was withdrawn from the agenda for Wednesday’s regular council meeting and will be brought back at the Sept. 5 agenda session.

Burney said there are three categories of sex offenders and he wanted to eliminate the least dangerous Tier 1 offenders from the list. He gave the example of a young man, 18, who dated and had sex with a girl, 17, and because of parental objections was labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Law enforcement guidelines place Tier 11 offenders at moderate risk of repeat crimes and Tier 111 at high risk .

Burney gave the council a list of 37 municipalities that had passed restrictions on sex offenders, mostly regarding residency, but a few also limiting their activities near sensitive sites.

Burney said the proposed law “does not make anybody move”

“They can stay where they are,“ he said. “It just can‘t be an open door to people who live in Cranford.”

He called it a statewide and even nationwide issue.

If the ordinance is passed on first reading at the Sept. 7 regular meeting, there would be a public hearing before final passage. More information on the Sex Offender Registry is posted at http://www.njsp.org/index.html on the State Police web site.

--Bernice Paglia


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