Bill would restrict where sex offenders can live

Nevada could be joining the likes of Alabama as one of a few states which restricts the places convicted sex offenders can live.

State Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, is looking at a bill to prohibit sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center, park or other place frequented by children. He says its a safety issue for children who could unknowingly be at risk of sex offenders.

''We want to keep them away from facilities like child care centers and schools to create a border and keep children safe,'' Washington said.

But American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Allen Lichtenstein questions whether such a law would hold up against constitutional challenges in court.

''Its my opinion this scenario has some significant problems,'' he said. ''Its one thing to have notification, but its something entirely different to say where people can live.''

In 1997, Nevadas Legislature established a statewide sex offender registry and began requiring local law enforcement to notify communities where sex offenders were released.

Det. Adam Wygnanski, a Reno police officer who heads up the notification program for Washoe County, said he has had calls from residents concerned to learn a sex offender is living across the street from a school or day care center.

Those callers often hang up frustrated, because police cant do anything about it, he said.

''Sexual predators can live inside a day care center if they want to. There are no stipulations on it,'' Wygnanski said. ''I dont know if its a problem in that it happens often, but its an issue for people who think that because hes a convicted sex offender he cant live near places frequented by children.''

There are nearly 325,000 sex offenders living in the United States. California has the most sex offenders with 82,597 and there are 5,000 registered offenders in Nevada. About 3,000 are in Las Vegas and 850 in Washoe County.


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