Change in sex offender law

By: Melissa Randall

mrandall@abc6.com

@MRandallABC6

1,000 feet. That’s as close as level three sex offenders, hose considered "high risk”, can live to a school in Rhode island.

“It makes me feel safer that they are further away,” said parent Maria Perry.

The change in law is being enforced in Providence this week which is giving peace of mind to parents like Deborah Santana.

“I think it’s great. It’s less for me to worry about. I think actually they should be a little bit more miles away from the school. The children shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders,” said the mother of two.

Since 2008 level 3 sex offenders have been prohibited from living within 300 feet of schools.

There are currently 67 registered level 3 sex offenders living in the capitol city. The Providence Journal reports that last week police told dozens of them that their current homes too close to schools. They’ve been given 30 days to move. Those who are affected aren’t getting any pity from Perry.

“You feel bad for anybody because everyone deserves a second chance, but if you’ve done it more than once then I don’t want you anywhere near my kid,” she said.

But experts warn pushing level 3 sex offenders out any further could back-fire.

“We know from research that the 3 things that are most effective in stabilizing sex offenders as they re–enter the community from recidivism are housing, stable employment and treatment. And if you don’t have stable housing, you can’t follow up on stable treatment and income through a job,” said Jim Ryczek, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless.

“It’s hard enough to find a place if you don’t have these barriers. But if you do it’s a significant problem so we’re going to see those folks falling into the shelter system,” Ryczek explained.

Ryczek says if the level 3 sex offenders can’t find a place due to the barriers, they will likely end up in the shelter system. That is a problem because many of those local shelters are near schools. That means they are now off limits, too.

Under the new law, the 300–foot ban still applies to level 1 and level 2 sex offenders.

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