FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2013
ACLU Applauds Village of Alexandria Decision on Sex Offender Ordinance
Village Board Voted Down Proposed Ordinance after ACLU Indicated Potential Constitutional Concerns
LINCOLN - On Wednesday, October 9th, the Village of Alexandria rejected an ordinance that would have restricted sex offender residency beyond what Nebraska state law allows. The ACLU of Nebraska had previously informed the Village Board of the potential unconstitutionality of the proposed ordinance. Across the country, experts involved in the treatment of sex offenders, as well as victims’ rights groups have opposed sex offender residency laws as being ineffective and potentially harmful to public safety.
“By deciding not to move forward with an unconstitutional ordinance, the Village of Alexandria can now spend their resources on practices that will actually make the community safer,” said Becki Brenner, Executive Director for the ACLU of Nebraska. “This decision should encourage other communities to focus on programs that will actually reduce the likelihood of sex offenses, such as public education programs.”
“The state of Nebraska has set the parameters a municipality can use to restrict a sex offender. Many domestic violence and sexual assault organizations believe the safety of a community is best served by encouraging people to report sexual violence – not creating further restrictions on housing for an offender,” said Legal Director of the Nebraska ACLU, Amy Miller. In her initial letter to the Village Board in September, Miller indicated that the Village was free to pass an ordinance that complied with state law, but the proposal being considered by Alexandria went farther and raised legal questions.
Shortly after Iowa became the first state in the country to implement a sex offender residency statute, the Iowa County Attorneys Association issued a statement opposing that statute, pointing out that “there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children.” Other groups have noted that laws like these perpetuate the myth that most child sex offenses are committed by strangers, when in fact the overwhelming majority are committed by relatives and people the child knows.