Wednesday, March 16, Valenti is a registered sex offender, and under Indiana law is prohibited from living within so many feet of certain places where children congregate. District Court in Fort Wayne. Similar ordinances in other states are being challenged in court and their efficacy is debated by experts and law enforcement.
A step further Enacted in , the Hartford City ordinance is to protect from the "extreme threat to the health, safety, and welfare of children" posed by sex offenders who are required to register. The ordinance is designed to create areas around locations where children regularly congregate, and prohibits registered sex offenders from loitering or establishing residence in those areas.
The ordinance prohibits residency within 1, feet of schools, public parks, playgrounds, child care institutions or other places where children regularly congregate. Such a prohibition is consistent with state law. But Hartford City took its ordinance a step further. It bans registered sex offenders from loitering within feet of the "child safety zones" and bars them from entering the premises of these places. It defines loitering as "standing or sitting idly.
According to court records, Valenti was ticketed for violating the ordinance just days after he filed his lawsuit. In his lawsuit, Valenti claims the ordinance is vague, arbitrary, and irrational, and in violation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to U.
He also alleges it represents unconstitutional retroactive punishment, also in violation of the U. Constitution as well as the Indiana Constitution.
Because he is unable to attend church, under the advice of law enforcement because of the law, Valenti also alleges the ordinance violates his rights to freely practice his religion. And when he tries to vote in person in an election, he is prohibited from doing that as well, as his polling place is located inside an elementary school. That, Valenti, said is a violation of another constitutional right.
He is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to keep the ordinance from being enforced, as well as costs and damages. He is not a fan of the registry restrictions, and he believes the idea of child safety zones is crazy.
To his knowledge, no other community in northeastern Indiana has enacted such a rule. It really makes it difficult for them to reintegrate into the society and have some kind of normal life.
Shimkus would rather have a registered sex offender living next to his home, and next to an elementary school, than have a sex offender choose not to register in order to have an easier time finding a place to live. The registry is about narrowing the victim pool, by saying to parents, look this is not the person you want to hire as a baby sitter. It is to give information, to place flags around the mines in the minefield, he said. Thomas Stucky, an associate professor at IUPUI and the director of criminal justice and public safety programs, has been researching this issue for years.
And research, his and others, have been pretty consistent on the effectiveness of registries and other highly-restrictive laws concerning sex offenders. They are not as effective in preventing sex crimes as they are intended to, he said. But such logic is often faulty because there is frequently an assumption that those on the lists are the only dangers. Those people are a danger to the public.
To assume that those are the people on the registry is dangerous, he said. Even the most serious offender will at some point in their life likely stop the behavior. This is in no way to try to impact the victimization of the victims," Stucky continued.