NJ ruling favors sex offendersCharlie Butts and Jody Brown - OneNewsNow - 5/12/2009 6:00:00 AM
Laws restricting where convicted sexual predators can live have been struck down in more than 100 New Jersey communities.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last week that local laws banning sex offenders from living near schools, parks, or other places where children gather are unconstitutional because they conflict with state law. In most cases, the local ordinances were initially designed to complement state statutes that require convicted sex offenders to register in their residing community.
In a 6-0 decision involving Cherry Hill and Galloway townships, the justices wrote that such laws creating "buffer zones" for convicted sex offenders "are precluded by the present, stark language of Megan's Law. It is that language which controls."
But Vince McCarthy of the American Center for Law & Justice believes the justices' hearts were in the wrong place. "During the oral argument, the court was very sympathetic to convicted sexual predators -- which I find odd," he admits. "I think they should be at least equally sympathetic toward children and parents of children who have been molested."
According to the attorney, the problem can be remedied -- but it will have to be done at the state level.
"The people in New Jersey have reacted very adversely to this decision," says McCarthy, "and I think the legislature's going to be really pressured to do something now." Meanwhile, predators can live and hang out wherever they want to -- including a children's playground.
According to an Associated Press report, all 50 states have some version of Megan's Law, but the cases decided on Thursday are the first of their type to reach a state supreme court.