On March 27, 2018, Stamford attorney Audrey Felsen of Koffsky & Felsen filed suit in federal court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the town of Windsor Locks. The suit, on behalf of plaintiffs One Standard of Justice, Inc. and a Windsor Locks resident identified as John Doe, challenges the constitutionality of Windsor Locks’ “Child Safety Zones” ordinance.
“This suit is for declaratory and injunctive relief from an overly broad ordinance that clearly violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution,” said Felsen. “The plaintiffs are subjected to substantial discrimination, prejudice and irrational fears because of false concerns of an “alarmingly high” recidivism rate among a discrete category of citizens.”
The Windsor Locks ordinance, which is similar to ordinances adopted in at least nine other Connecticut municipalities, cites “evidence that the recidivism rate for released sex offenders is alarmingly high, especially for those who commit their crimes on children” as rationale for prohibiting access to public facilities, including parks, Town Hall, schools, and the senior center.
Working with attorney Felsen on the suit is North Carolina attorney Paul Dubbeling. Dubbeling, a former U.S. Army Ranger and prosecutor for the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp, has successfully litigated similar issues in North Carolina. Mr. Dubbeling said, “This ordinance effectively denies these citizens access to almost all public areas and therefore the opportunity to substantially participate in adult education, sports, nutritional programming, and community social and political events, and even their own children’s education.”
Mr. Dubbeling continued, “By ostracizing these citizens, by shutting them out of public life, we do nothing to make our towns safer. In this, and in all government action, we should demand thoughtful, reasoned laws that materially advance the public good.”
Cindy Prizio, executive director of One Standard of Justice, said, “Ordinances like the one in Windsor Locks, as well as in other Connecticut towns, seeks to perpetuate a myth that a narrowly defined segment of our population is an ongoing, permanent threat to public safety. The facts tell a completely different story.”