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Cumberland Town Bans Sex Offenders From Parks

Posted February 28, 2008

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— After a registered sex offender was seen hanging around a local playground in recent weeks, town officials passed an ordinance banning sex offenders from public parks.

"We don't want the potential for something happening," Mayor Pro Tem Joseph Dixon said. "It's not worth it to have one child molested."

Cumberland County ranks fifth statewide with 371 registered sex offenders living inside its borders.

Concerned residents flooded Town Hall with calls that the sex offender also visited the nurseries at local churches during services. Callers also claimed he left notes in a gas station bathroom soliciting sex with children, Town Clerk Cindy Burchett said.

"One lady said he commented on how pretty her little girl was, which made her very nervous," Burchett said.

The new ordinance, which passed unanimously, carries a penalty of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail for violators.

State law bars registered sex offenders from living within 100 feet of a school or day care, but Wade isn't the first town to enact tougher restrictions.

Officials in Woodfin, a town near Asheville, three years ago also passed a ordinance to keep sex offenders out of parks. Garner officials rejected a similar proposal the same year.

The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the Woodfin ordinance in court. Katy Parker, the ACLU's legal director in North Carolina, said such local laws are too broad and punish people on the registry who don't pose a danger to children.

Wade officials sent a letter to sex offenders in the area informing them of the new ordinance, and they plan to post signs in the park next week.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • runny29840 Feb 29, 2008

    I'll point out again, that not all sex offenders committed an offense against a child. The term encompases all ranges of offenses.

    Again how does any one expect to enforce this restiction.

  • FromClayton Feb 29, 2008

    So why, exactly, would a registered sex offender want to visit a park if not to harm children? Why not take every possible precaution you can? I expect my town to pass this ordnance as well.

  • Fenrirwulf Feb 29, 2008

    If these people are a danger to society they need to be locked away. If they have served their time and been released from the judicial system then they need to be left alone. Either or, none of this 'We don't want to pay to imprison you so we will release you, but you are dangerous so we will put so many stipulations on what you can and can't do that you will still feel imprisoned'.

  • runny29840 Feb 29, 2008

    I'm all for keeping child predators away from areas where kids are (not every sex offender is a child molester). But, how do they plan on enforcing this? Screen everyone that enters the park? It would be extremely difficult to enforce without resorting to a police state (show your papers) mentality.

  • goheels Feb 28, 2008

    I am all for this ordinance....go to blank blank ACLU.