Local New Jersey ordinances restricting where convicted sex offenders can live may be at risk after a state appellate court struck down such laws in several towns yesterday, reports the Times im Trenton. The local residency rules, which bar registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park, playground, or daycare center, conflict with the state’s authority under Megan’s Law and are therefore invalid, said the Appellate Division of the state Superior Court.
Similar measures in more than 100 New Jersey municipalities could be rendered unenforceable if the ruling stands. The court said that Megan’s Law, named for the girl who was murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived in her neighborhood, was intended to be an “all-encompassing” law governing the treatment of sex offenders. The court said there was a “need for statewide uniformity” in the enforcement of Megan’s Law, noting that the local ordinances tread on the authority of parole officers, who are empowered under the law to find “appropriate housing” for convicted sex offenders. A lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice will appeal to the state’s highest court, arguing there is no conflict with Megan’s Law. “Towns have the right to control where these people live,” said Vincent McCarthy of the Washington, D.C.-based center.