The Iowa Civil Liberties Union has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out the Iowa law that forbids convicted sex offenders from living within two-thousand feet of a school or daycare. Iowa Civil Liberties Union executive director Ben Stone says the law is “misconceived.”
Stone says the law applies to people who’ve done nothing wrong for decades and are labeled a “sex offender” for convictions that are 20 or 30 years old. Towns in Iowa are starting to pass ordinances that restrict where sex offenders may live, too, and Stone says it means that within a few months, there may be no where left for a sex offender to live in Iowa, except a prison.
Supporters of the law say it is just one way to try to keep sexual deviants who prey on children away from schools and daycares, but Stone says the law so broad it applies to people guilty of simply “flashing” someone at a high school party. “Someone gets inebriated at a party and exposes themselves, they can be covered (by the new living restrictions) and it could have happened 20 years ago,” Stone says. “The law goes back very far in time and it covers a great deal of offenses beyond the typical one that people think of, the child molester.”
Stone says the I-C-L-U is arguing the law is a new version of the old-fashioned practice of “banishment.” “You know, the old days when towns would banish someone from their town, the Supreme Court of the United States has found that is a cruel and unusual punishment,” Stone says. He says police and sheriff’s deputies in Iowa are wasting a lot of time trying to track down the whereabouts of people who’re aren’t dangerous “child molesters” because the law’s too broad.
The U.S. Supreme Court will probably decide by the end of the year whether to hear the I-C-L-U’s case. Iowa is one of two states in the country to have a law on the books that restricts where convicted sex offenders may live.