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.

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    • #55628 Reply
      Larry Neely
      Larry Neely
      Admin

      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
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      Timothy

      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
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      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
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      freedomwriter

      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
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      Jim

      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
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      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
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      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!!!!!!
      IT IS ILLEGAL TO DELAY SO LONG !!!!!!!!!
      DEFENDANTS ARE LOSING THEIR LIVES !!!!!!!!!
      WHAT PROOF DO THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS !!!!!
      Vilates a Right To Fair and Speedy Trial or COURT CASE !!!

    • #55663 Reply
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      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
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      Wearethepeople

      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
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      Tom

      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
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        John

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

        • #55713 Reply
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          Tom

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

    • #55830 Reply
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      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
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        Tom

        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
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      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.

      • #56362 Reply
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        patricia winchild

        EXACTLY MY SENTIMENTS Tom. (May 24th) …I really don’t get some of the people who don’t get that liberal, yes I said the word, groups like the ACLU are among the very few groups that actually DO FIGHT to change these laws.. Yes, I send them money too…they sure as hell deserve it.
        What conservative group is doing that? I’d really like to know.

        Also, does anyone know of an attorney or group, besides the Innocence Project, in Oklahoma that would be willing to consider an innocent man who got 60 YEARS about 10 years ago for supposedly molesting his teenage daughter. The girl was told she couldn’t see her drug dealing boyfriend. She told her father “I can and you can’t stop me and if you do, you’ll be sorry”. Well, he’s sorry. This was a case w/ NO medial evidence, no dna, no polygraphs, nada but the girls’ testimony. He had an alcoholic legal aid attorney who did nothing to help him. He’s considering changing his plea because he’s tried over and over to get someone to look at his case and bumped up against stone walls. I’ve gotten to know this man through his mother, who died several years ago. We were both in a group to support family who were falsely accused of sex offenses.

    • #55926 Reply
      Avatar
      Mr.B

      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 !!!
      THE LAW HAS NO RIGHT TO OPPRESS PEOPLE KNOWINGLY WILLINGLY PARTICIPATING IN ACTS THAT DESTRO THE RIGJT TO LIFE LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS BECAUSE OF PAST CONVICTIONS…ETC !!

    • #56112 Reply
      Avatar
      Tom

      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)

    • #56266 Reply
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      WC_TN

      That these laws are enacted for the sole purpose of banishment and subjecting registrants and their families to the hatred and vitriol of society at large can no longer be denied. The proof is now in the pudding that these laws are meant to subject registrants to cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of a vindictive and vengeful public. I have found an article that tells people how to force registered citizens out of their communities. These laws are the weapons of society who fully intends to banish us at any and all cost. This article on truthfinder (wow, talk about irony here. They wantonly engage in fear and hate-mongering journalism and yet call themselves a truth web site. How pathetic.) ( Web link removed, please review posting rules)

      imagine  watchinga paroled sex offender who committed unspeakable crimes against children move in next door to you. And imagine that you’ll have to see them, complete with a GPS tracker strapped to their ankle, every single day. They’re in your neighborhood legally, and you’re completely powerless to remove them.

      While many states have residency restrictions for sex criminals, none completely forbid them from living near children. That means that a child abuser could live right next door to your family and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      Steering clear of them all the time would be almost impossible. What would you do if you had to pick up mail that was accidentally delivered to their house? What would you say if they showed up on your doorstep and asked you for a cup of sugar?

      While current laws can’t help you in this situation, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate living near potentially dangerous criminals. With a little creativity and community organizing, you can purge your neighborhood of people who might put your family at risk.

      1) Build Tiny Parks
      What would you do if there were over 100 registered sex offenders living within a few miles from you? That’s the exact problem that parents in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Harbor Gateway faced. Sick of seeing all the parolees so close to their homes, they decided to do something about it: build the smallest parks in Los Angeles.

      Under Jessica’s Law, California state forbids sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of parks and schools. It doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, old, or new. If there’s a park nearby, offenders have to either move away or face prison again.

      So City Councilman, Joe Buscaino, helped create a 1000 square foot patch of grass with a jungle gym — which is more than enough to be an official “park.” The groundbreaking ceremony had all the fanfare of a major park opening, complete with a marching band and cheering residents.

      Want to create your own “pocket park?” Scope out possible locations and contact your city council. If your state has the same residency restrictions, all it takes is a tiny patch of grass to drive out registered sex offenders.

      2) Establish A Childcare Business

      If you want to clear out the sex criminals from your neighborhood and make some side money at the same time, you could start a childcare business. And you could even do it at home.

      Many states with residency restrictions forbid registered offenders from living near childcare facilities. But a childcare facility doesn’t have to mean a specialized building with multiple rooms that can care for dozens of children. You can get a license to care for your neighbor’s kids in your house.
      You could start a small business, let neighborhood children play at your home, and remove sex offenders from your neighborhood all at the same time. What’s not to love?

      Look into your state’s licensing requirements. It will probably involve paying a fee, learning state laws, attending orientation, and letting officials inspect your home. Once you snag that license and your house transforms into an official child care facility, nearby sex offenders will have to pack up and find somewhere else to call home.

      3) Organize Protests

      If it gets bad enough, you could simply organize a protest against a sex offender.

      Sound too simple? It’s worked before. In 2000, the residents of a neighborhood in Monrovia, California were horrified by the presence of Aramis Dominguez Linares, a twice-convicted child molester. To get him out, they just gathered in front of his home. Over 100 residents chanted and waved signs for several nights in a row. At a nearby park, they placed a blue ribbon that read “Child Molester Leave Now.”

      And it worked! The police reported that Linares left the neighborhood and moved somewhere else.

      If there is one sex offender, in particular, you desperately want out, protest with your neighbors. It might only take a few days of marching, sign painting, and chanting through a bullhorn to have peace of mind again.

      4) Get Political

      Do you know who represents your district in your state’s legislative body? If you get in touch with them, they might be able to help you.

      Offenders might legally live on your block now. But if you make enough of a fuss, you can change the law. Megan’s Law, one of the largest legislative victories against sex offenders, began as a bill in the New Jersey general assembly in 1994.

      Find out who represents you in your state legislature. Then call and write them. If you can motivate your neighbors to also get their voices heard, you might just spark something that gets dangerous people out of your neighborhood.
      Protect Your Family From Sex Offenders

      Knowing that there are child molesters in your neighborhood is scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Having molesters lurking around your street and not even knowing that they’re there. If you want to find out exactly who is dangerous in your neighborhood, search your public records. You can uncover the names and even see photos of registered sex offenders near you. Once you’re armed with the truth, you’ll be able to do something about it.

      PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY AND PASS THIS LINK TO ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE ABLE TO CONTACT THE ATTORNEY LITIGATING THE COLORADO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY APPEAL AT THE 10TH CIRCUIT. (This is the case where Judge Matsch ruled the Colorado S.O.R. unconstitutional because it violates the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because it opens registrants up to cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of the public.)

    • #56282 Reply
      Avatar
      WC_TN

      Hi, Larry!

      It’s Will from TN; your regular caller with legal questions on “Registry Matters”. 🙂

      Would the Does v. Snyder ruling from the 6th Circuit be a persuasive argument against at least the retroactive application of harsher residency restrictions?

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