A ruling this week by a Washington County judge may add weight to criticism of Iowa’s sex-offender law. Once released from prison, offenders cannot live within two-thousand feet of a school or daycare. But in many of Iowa’s small towns, that rules out almost any place to live, and republican senator Don Redfern, a Cedar Falls attorney, says that’s why lawmakers tried to amend the requirement during the session just ended. Redfern says lawyers knew it was a concern and were hearing from law-enforcement that it limited sex offenders in many towns to very few places they’d be able to live, and they anticipated a legal challenge. The president of the Iowa County Attorneys Association, Fred McCaw, says the law shouldn’t be changed, it should be thrown out. McCaw says there’s no evidence that anyone’s safer because of the distance a sex offender lives from a school or daycare, and he adds most victimized a family member of acquaintance. The 50-year-old man in the Washington County case had been convicted of lascivious acts with a minor. McCaw says other laws focus better on protecting the public, like the state’s sex-offender registry, public notification, and requirement that employers check the background of workers so sex offenders aren’t hired to work in some jobs. McCaw says law-enforcement officers have told him the law’s too difficult to enforce, and wastes time as they try to find sex offenders a place to live when they come home to live. But republican senator Chuck Larson, a Cedar Rapids attorney, says the law should be upheld.Larson says many prey on children and other states that have “distance” laws keeping them from schools have seen their laws upheld in the courts. Senator Larson says he was called just this week by a constituent concerned about a sex offender who’s moved into the neighborhood and he knows people care about the issue. The attorney general’s office says it will ask the state supreme court to review the Washington County ruling.
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