FOND DU LAC – Should the city regulate the distance from which sex offenders can reside from parks, schools and child-care facilities?
Fond du Lac City Council members considered this possibility during its meeting Wednesday night, receiving input from Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb and City Attorney Deborah Hoffman about the need for such an ordinance and its legality.
Council member Daniel Degner presented the issue to council, stating it was one of the reasons he ran in 2019 for the seat. In 2018, Degner circulated a petition to shut down a town of Eldorado residence leased by the Wisconsin Department of Health for its supervised release program as it placed men deemed as Chapter 980 sex offenders, or sexually violent offenders, within a short distance of homes with children, Degner told The Reporter at the time.
Out of similar concerns, several municipalities throughout Wisconsin created ordinances that limited the placement of sex offenders around these areas. In Pleasant Prairie, an ordinance banning sex offenders from living within 3,000 feet — and later 1,500 feet — of these areas was found unconstitutional, as it made 90% of the city uninhabitable for sex offenders, according to The Journal Times. Other towns and cities change their laws following it to avoid lawsuit, Degner said.
By having such restrictions, it can create a population of homeless sex offenders, force them to live in one neighborhood, or drive them into other communities, he said.
“We have to balance the humanity and constitutional rights of convicted sex offenders with the safety of children and liberty of families’ consciousnesses feeling safe to have children in our schools, parks and childcare facilities,” Degner said.