Iowa’s Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal suit hoping to strike down a state law that requires convicted sex offenders released from prison to live more than 2000 feet from any school or daycare. A Washington County judge in April found the law unconstitutional but ICLU director Ben Stone says a federal suit may hurry the process of erasing the law, which he says puts an impossible burden on many people.Stone calls it a poorly-conceived law that’s hard to enforce and wastes resources of law enforcement and charges that it’s to get politicians reelected. The civil liberties union says this may be the first class-action lawsuit in the nation to take on a law of this type. Stone says not only does it “banish” offenders from entire towns, but it’s unfair to the few places they may be allowed to live. It’s not very popular with residents of those few neighborhoods where sex offenders can live, since they will heavily populate those places and that won’t help property values. In a lot of towns it amounts to a “banishment” because they can’t live anywhere within city limits, and even in Des Moines or Iowa City Stone says four-tenths of a mile is a big distance, considering it includes every day care that’s licensed, and that’s a lot. ICLU says Iowa law already has systems for tracking released sex offenders, and this law puts too much burden on local police. This is just having police try to keep track of where hundreds and thousands of people live, and cops don’t have the staff. The group cites the case of a man who was 18 when he was convicted of having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, in another state — and says he couldn’t even have been convicted for that in Iowa but now lives here and faces impossible conditions under the sex-offender residence law.
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