Rhode Island residency restrictions update

By Larry . . . In 2015 Rhode Island extended residency restrictions from 300 to 1000 feet for level 3 offenders and retroactively applied the increased restriction to those already living within the expanded buffer zone. In response, the ACLU of Rhode Island filed Freitas v. Kilmartin on October 29, 2015 against the Attorney General and director of the Department of Corrections, each in his official capacity.  In recognition of the imminent danger that other states might follow Rhode Island’s lead, NARSOL has provided significant funding to the ACLU for case related costs such as experts.

The suit was brought as a class action on behalf of all “level 3” sex offenders to challenge the constitutionality of a statute, effective July 1, 2015, which prohibited them from living within 1000 feet of a “school, public or private” and made violation of the law a felony.  A temporary restraining order enjoining enforcement was granted October 30, 2015 and provided that the order would remain in effect until the court issued its decision after trial, which was then scheduled to begin January 19, 2016.  Trial was postponed while the parties engaged in discovery.  The court denied class action status as unnecessary to grant full relief.  A protracted discovery issue concerning identifying every “school” covered by the statute caused substantial delay in moving forward and, among other things, delayed the ability of plaintiffs’ mapping expert to complete his analysis and report on the law’s impact on housing opportunities for those affected by the law. The statute contained no definition of “school,” leading to conflicting interpretations of what entities it applied to.

In 2018, the state amended the statute, providing a definition of “school, public or private” and purporting to set forth how the 1000 feet should be measured, but made the amendment effective July 1, 2019.  The amendment requires a new analysis by plaintiffs’ mapping expert. That same legislation made other amendments to the state’s SORNA law. There is pending legislation, proposed by the State’s Attorney General, to postpone the effective date of the amended statute to July 1, 2020, and this postponement bill is expected to pass.  The court has indicated (as plaintiffs requested) that the case be tried on the amended statute, rather than both versions.  However, no new trial date has yet been set because the court directed the parties to explore the possibility of a settlement.  At the court’s direction, plaintiffs have presented a confidential set of proposals to the State.  The State’s confidential response is due May 24, 2019.  Thereafter, the parties are scheduled to report to the court on June 13, 2019.  We expect that, at that time, depending on the parties’ settlement positions, the court will either set up a mediation to attempt to resolve the matter or establish a schedule to complete pretrial matters and for trial date.

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Larry Neely

Larry serves as NARSOL'S treasurer, publisher of the Digest, and co-chair of the conference planning committee. He also hosts the "NARSOL in Action" and "Can They Do That?" webinars and is a regular on the "Registry Matters" podcasts.

This topic contains 14 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Jonathan Waters 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #55628 Reply
    Larry Neely
    Larry Neely

    By Larry . . . In 2015 Rhode Island extended residency restrictions from 300 to 1000 feet for level 3 offenders and retroactively applied the increase
    [See the full post at: Rhode Island residency restrictions update]

  • #55633 Reply

    Thx Larry,
    A nice abstract of this case and how Federal suits work. State uses their inexhaustible resources to delay, delay and delay again even when the aDA knows a loss will result. I suspect the judge knows it too as previously federal cases have identified residency restriction as a punitive in intent by the people. IMO residency restrictions by local jurisdiction are the lawlessness based upon the registry itself.

  • #55640 Reply
    David Higham

    It is total bullshit they both sat on there hands and did nothing that is why four years latter they are still at a stand still the aclu really don’t care they just as well let this case go away I know because I lie in Rhode Island and asked the aclu help me challenge sorna but was told it was a privacy issue instead of constitutional issue on well life in R I.

  • #55637 Reply

    I am strongly opposed to retroactive laws in the United States of America. No matter what circular logic is used, ALL things fall under ex-post-facto or contracts clause. It is incredible the land of the free allows retroactive laws.

  • #55638 Reply

    This country THRIVES on laws. Making laws, testing laws, and making sure they can employ billions of dollars to lazy workers to make even more laws to prove their useless existence as a government paid employee with endless benefits, Holiday and vacation time that is crazy, awesome retirement, the best medical insurance on the planet. IE a politician/lawmaker. Like My Grandpa said ” Going against this crooked government is like farting at a Hurricane to try to stop it”. SO TRUE!!

  • #55648 Reply
    Edward V.

    In 2018 the California Supreme Court has ruled that the resident restriction was a violation of the Ex Post Facto rule. thus claiming a blanket restriction is a violation of the consitutions.

  • #55656 Reply
    Mr. stand up!

    How many damn Years of delay BS is going to be enough…..or Allowed !!!
    Who in the HELL would say the LAW is doing right!!!!!!
    Vilates a Right To Fair and Speedy Trial or COURT CASE !!!

  • #55663 Reply
    Mike Hall

    Thanks, Larry for the understandable synopsis of this case, and for keep us all abreast of its status. We appreciate all that you and others at NARSOL do on our behalf!

  • #55669 Reply

    My question is why? Is there any reason for their actions to do this? Has there been any proof that sex crimes have been committed by any of the SVP in the restricted areas being 300 feet. What is the need for the increase? If there is no need why do it!

  • #55670 Reply

    I also live in Rhode Island and have also asked the ACLU for help with the residency laws. I bought a condo prior to the enactment of the 300’ residency law. I was told I could not live there again because I wasn’t living there when I committed my crime (I was renting it at that time). So, when searching for housing after my arrest, I could not move into a property I owned. Sadly, the ACLU did not take my case.

    • #55708 Reply

      Not surprised. The ACLU doesn’t take our cases. It’s bad PR ya know!?

      • #55713 Reply

        In their defense, they do have they’re hands full with the lawsuit referenced in the article.

  • #55830 Reply
    David Higham

    Come on Tom you live in Rhode island and you make excuses for the aclu you are aware that they have many attorneys who help them with there case log and it also the Cali who decides what cases they are going to help with Harrington hall was helped by the aclu because of the publicity because the state was trying to tell them how many homeless people could stay in the shelter in a daily based namely the speaker of the house so to make an excuse for them has never entered my mind.

    • #56111 Reply

      As a sex offender, I am reluctant to criticize the ACLU. Sadly, these are the only people who fight everyday for the most unpopular members of society. I send the ACLU my money because of the numerous lawsuit they file on behave of sex offender and of their continuing efforts to lobby against legislation seeking to further marginalize sex offenders. They will continue to get my money.

  • #55906 Reply
    Jonathan Waters

    Since, “The statute contained no definition of “school,” leading to conflicting interpretations of what entities it applied to.” Homeschooler’s can by definition constitutes a “school”…Thus any neighbor or neighbor with children can start homeschooling their kids; thus, forcing the registered individuals to move or face imprisonment. This law has is nothing more in my thinking BARBARIC, DRACONIAN and PUNITIVE in and of itself, subjecting the registrant to the whim of “mob rule” and not rule of law. Too many of these laws are on the books and they need to be struck down for they are in and of themselves an outright threat to democracy as a whole.

  • #55926 Reply

    We’ll, it is unacceptable and should be stated very clearly to any and all Authorities that excessive bails, fines , imprisonment along with ridiculously long case reviews and court delays and all other legal Crap is well beyond just ok !!!
    Individuals who are have and will suffer and die at the hands of any laws subjecting people to violence and murder and degradation and lega, Societal Disabilities is not and Will not be TOLERATED !!!

  • #56112 Reply

    All residency restriction are unconstitutional. Especially, after a sex offender has completed their probation and paid their debt to society. Sadly, as far as sex offenders are concerned, the Constitution has become a mere suggestion to the courts with virtually no apparent impact of poor legislation and poor court decisions. (ie:, Smith v Doe)

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