IA county seeks repeal of sex offender law

Iowa’s Shelby County has joined the Iowa County Attorneys Association, the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies
Association, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Abuse, the Prevent Child Abuse Iowa organization, the Iowa State Association of Counties and several other Iowa groups and associations supporting repealing the sex offender residency restriction law, which took effect in September 2005. The County was encouraged by the County Attorney to pass this resolution:

“Our county attorney (Marcus Gross Jr.) requested we do this,” Supervisor Richard Ferry said. “He said it is a difficult law to enforce. People are living in abandoned houses and cars. It’s hard for law enforcement to find them. It’s not right.”

According to Gross, offenders are living in cemeteries and out of their cars, which is counterproductive because no one really knows where they are.

Division of Criminal Investigations Special Agent Joe Motsinger said he doesn’t have statistics to indicate whether offenders are failing to report changing residences because of the 2000-foot law, but said he personally knows of situations where that is the case. Motsinger heads the Sex Offender Registry.”When they are arrested for not complying, the reason they give is they couldn’t find a place because of the 2000-foot rule,” he said.

Ferry said he wants the Legislature to revisit the issue and try something else.

The laws intended purpose of reducing sex crimes has also not come to fruition.

Convictions for sex charges, the vast majority of which involve children, have remained steady since the 2,000-foot law and similar local ordinances took effect. The state’s 2006 fiscal year saw 759 such convictions, versus 750 in 2005.

About 140 people have been convicted of violating the 2,000-foot rule since its inception, but the penalty is small. It is a misdemeanor, usually punishable by fines and probation but no jail time.

These various associations in Iowa have supported a repeal of this law for a while now and I’m glad to see more joining in debate and taking a stand.

Prof. Berman has lots more coverage on this issue, as does Sex Crimes.

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