A New Jersey lawsuit challenging restrictions on sex offender residence locations is one of a series of court tests of the rapidly proliferating laws on pedophiles, reports the New York Times. More than 20 states have broad laws keeping sex offenders from schools, churches, playgrounds and the like. The steady march of restrictive regulations, is sending sex offenders into rural territory, or worse, into vagrancy, law enforcement officials say. Officials fear that uprooting sex offenders makes them less stable and harder to track.
An Ohio court ruled in October that the state's buffer-zone law could not be enforced against offenders who lived in such zones before it took effect. A federal judge in California issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the residency restrictions set forth in the state's recent ballot proposition. In Georgia, plaintiffs in a class-action suit include offenders who would seem to pose little further threat: an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease and another living in a hospice, along with a woman whose long-ago conviction was for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 17. “We've represented people on death row, we've represented what I thought were some pretty unpopular people,” said Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which is handling the Georgia case. “I didn't know what unpopular was until we started representing sex offenders.”