Case dismissed against sex offender for violating new residency laws - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Case dismissed against sex offender for violating new residency laws

By Caton Bredar

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- A ruling Tuesday from a district court judge could change the law limiting where sex offenders can live. Last October, Kentucky passed new laws prohibiting convicted sexual offenders from living within 1,000 feet from facilities with children. WAVE 3's Caton Bredar has the latest from an attorney involved in the case.

Kentucky's new sex offender laws took effect last October, and almost immediately, Kentucky State Police identified and charged more than three dozen sex offenders for violating residency restrictions. 

Attorney Mike Goodwin's client was arrested the same night the new law took effect. Goodwin says the problem, legally, is that the new law amounts to a second punishment for the original crime, which is ex post facto, or unconstitutional.

"The Legislature decided that this is punishment," Goodwin said, referring to the new law. "They named it that in the title of the bill, and they said this is an act all about punishing sex offenders. And the Constitution couldn't be clearer that you can't punish people twice for the same thing."

According to Goodwin, his client was found guilty of a sexual offense nearly 10 years before being found in violation of new residency restriction laws. Those laws, passed last summer, dictate that convicted sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, or public playground. It's a law Jefferson District Judge Don Armstrong deemed unconstitutional, dismissing Goodwin's client's case. 

Across the nation, similar laws are facing legal challenges. In Clarksville, Indiana, the ACLU is challenging a law banning sex offenders from parks after a man was denied an exemption to coach his son's little league team.

Goodwin says such punishment is often doing more harm than good. "If you take people who have been convicted of a sexual offense, just like any offense, the last thing you want to do is destabilize them."

There's also the problem of where offenders "can" live. In Louisville, nearly 60 registered sex offenders were found in a single area near Churchill Downs, the same part of town where 4-year-old Ivan Aguilar Cano disappeared. His body was found in the neighborhood eight days later. It's that type of forced concentration, Goodwin fears, that can lead to problems.

"Forcing them to move out of their homes, breaking up their families," Goodwin said, "making them move where they can't work -- those things were a much harsher punishment than some of the original punishments for what were, in many cases, minor offenses."

Goodwin is representing 11 other Kentucky sex offenders in a federal court case, hoping to get the law repealed, and he said the bottom line is that the law is "not keeping communities safe." 

He adds that original proponents of the residence restrictions in other states have now done an aboutface and hopes that the same is soon true in Louisville. "In some cases," he concludes, the restrictions "make the problem worse."

Online Reporter: Caton Bredar

Online Producere: Michael Dever

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