In an effort to prevent a 76-year-old sex offender and his mentally ill wife from being forced out of their home, the New Jesey Public Defender’s Office has filed suit, contending municipalities have no power to establish “pedophile-free zones,” reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The lawsuit could invalidate dozens of local ordinances restricting where sex offenders may live. The lawsuit contends that municpalities are pre-empted by Megan’s Law, the state regulation of sex offenders. That law allows parole officers to dicate where a sex offender may live.
Franklin, N.J., Mayor David Ferrucci said his town’s ordinance was drafted to “pass legal and constitutional muster” and he “absolutely” intends to defend it. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a man identified as “A.B.,” contends he has been told he must leave the home where he has lived since 1969 by next week or face up to 90 days in jail. If he moves out, it adds, his mentally ill wife will be unable to care for herself. Ferrucci said the law excludes sex offenders, based on their risk level, from living within “concentric rings” around schools, libraries, day care centers, churches, convenience stores, and recreational areas.