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Residence ban on NH sex offenders called counterproductive

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 07. 2013 10:46PM

CONCORD - Legislation that would prevent local communities from banning sex offenders from moving into town brought criticism from civil liberties and criminal justice reform advocates, as well as the state police, at a public hearing Thursday.

Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Timothy Robertson would make it illegal for a local community to ban upper tier sex offenders from putting down roots in their town.

Bans in Dover and Franklin were challenged in suits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Franklin ban was thrown out in January 2012, while the Dover ordinance was ruled unconstitutional in 2009.

"Residential restrictions don't protect children," said Devon Chafee, executive director of the New Hampshire branch of the ACLU.

One major concern for opponents was the prospect that residential bans will drive sex offenders underground, and they will ignore requirements that they register.

New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Cheryl Nadeau told the House Judiciary Committee she supports House Bill 442, and said it could mean people convicted of sex crimes could be in a position to re-offend. "It will simply force them underground," Nadeau said.

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