THE ISSUE Dover City Councilman Sean Lynn has proposed an ordinance that would forbid Tier II and Tier III sex offenders from living or working within 500 feet of licensed daycares and from participating in activities related to children.


THE ISSUE Dover City Councilman Sean Lynn has proposed an ordinance that would forbid Tier II and Tier III sex offenders from living or working within 500 feet of licensed daycares and from participating in activities related to children.

Lynn drafted the ordinance in response to concerns raised by his constituents in the Third District, specifically at homeowners association meetings and neighborhood watch meetings. Dover City Council heard a first reading of the ordinance at its March 12 meeting.

WHAT’S HAPPENED The ACLU of Delaware followed up the introduction of Lynn’s ordinance with a March 22 letter to City Council urging members to vote against the ordinance. The letter signed by ACLU-DE Executive Director Kathleen MacRae and Legal Director Richard H. Morse stated the proposed sex-offender ordinance, if enacted, would actually put children at greater risk.

“All studies of residency restrictions have shown that they reduce public safety because they destabilize the lives of offenders, pushing them away from the support system of family, friends and the mental health services that they need,” MacRae said in a press release that summarized the letter. “Such laws also drive offenders into the shadows and away from supervision by law enforcement, one of the most effective tools against recidivism.”

Federal statistics show that only 7 percent of sex offenders victimize someone they do not know, she said. “Laws such as this proposed ordinance lull communities into a false sense of security by overstating the threat posed by strangers and ignoring the fact that most sexual abuse is committed by a family member or acquaintance in the victims home.”

WHAT’S NEXT Lynn said he had reviewed the letter submitted by the ACLU relative to Ordinance #2012-08, and would take their comments under consideration.

“… A strict application of the state law currently in effect would lead to an absurd result where commercial day care centers are concerned,” he said, among other things. “As the ACLU acknowledges, the current state law prohibits sex offenders from residing within 500 feet of a school. However, commercial day care centers do not squarely fall within the definition of ‘school’ as set forth in the Delaware Code.”

Dover City Council is scheduled to have a final reading of this ordinance at its next meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 9.