Englewood Colorado Sex Offender Ordinance Overturned by Federal Judge

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

A federal judge has overturned an Englewood, Colorado ordinance that seeks to limit where convicted sex offenders can live, calling it a conflict with “the state interest in the uniform treatment, management, rehabilitation, and reintegration of sex offenders during and after state supervision.”

The ordinance barred convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school, park or playground, or 1,000 feet of any licensed day care center, recreation center or swimming pool or on any property located next to a bus stop, walk-to-school route or recreational trail. U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that the ordinance “leaves essentially no place for offenders to live” and pushes them into neighboring cities, thereby violating their civil rights.

The state’s Sex Offender Management Board has asked repeatedly that communities not pass such local residency restrictions, because such ordinances often cause offenders to drop out of the state wide registration system, and prevent them from successfully reintegrating into society.

Englewood Colorado’s deputy city manager Michael Flaherty claims that the ordinance “wasn’t directed at the entire class of sexual offenders but only sexually violent predators, felons and those that have committed repeat offenses,” and was never intended to violate anyone’s civil rights. The Englewood City Council passed the ordinance to “protect residents, especially the youngest and most vulnerable of our citizens.”

The suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. “Local ordinances that ban sex offenders from living in a particular community provide a false sense of security,” said the ACLU’s Legal Director. “As the State Sex Offender Management Board has noted, these ordinances don’t prevent sex offenses and they don’t increase safety.” The ruling is likely to have an impact on other communities in the Denver Metro area who have sought to adopt similar measures, including Commerce City, Greeley, Greenwood Village, Castle Rock and Lone Tree Colorado.

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