An appeals court has upheld a state law that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school or daycare. The U-S Circuit Corut of Appeals says the restriction does not violate a sex offender’s rights. The ruling cited a U-S Supreme Court decision that said while such residency restrictions do infringe on a sex offender’s personal life, it’s narrowly tailored to serve a “compelling public interest.” State Senator Chuck Larson, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, hails the ruling.”This is an important decision for public safety and for the state of Iowa,” Larson says. “This decision will be looked to at a national level as well.” Other states and cites have adopted similar rules which bar those who’ve been found guilty of a sex crime from living near schools or day care centers. “The (Iowa) legislature had a reasonable justification for this law, for health and public safety,” Larson says. Last year, a district court judge struck down the law, though, agreeing with those who said the law made it too difficult for some sex offenders to find a place to live. As a result, legislators had intended to enact a new law that would establish a 1000 foot zone around schools and day care centers where sex offenders could not live. Now, with this latest federal court ruling, that plan has been scrapped because the 2000 foot barrier has been reinstated with the court’s decision.”Two-thousand feet is the appropriate standard and I do believe that it is functional,” Larson says. “There were experts who testified to the court that the greater the effort to keep these sex offenders away from our children will help remove the temptation or reduce the temptation for them to re-offend.” Iowa lawmakers are working on a bill that cracks down on sex offenders, an effort that began after a convicted sex offender was accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 10-year-old Cedar Rapids girl. That bill is in limbo, though, as the two sides on the death penalty issue feud over whether the Senate should debate capital punishment for child killers.
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