Milton awaits state’s sex offender residency rules

Delaware to write statewide requirements
The Town of Milton will wait for the state to draft a law that will apply to registered sex offender's residency statewide. The town had been considering changing the distance from schools, parks and daycare facilities registered sex offenders are required to live. The state law would contain a distance that could apply to all municipalities. SOURCE FILE
March 5, 2014

The Town of Milton has indefinitely postponed a public hearing on its registered sex offender residency law.

A Thursday, Feb. 27 public hearing has been canceled. Officials planned to discuss where sex offenders can live, reducing the distance from not within 3,000 scheduled to discuss changing sex offender residency requirements from not permitting convicted offenders to live within 3,000-feet of schools, parks and daycare facilities, to not allowing residency within 1,000 feet or 500 feet.

Seth Thompson, Milton’s attorney, said the town faced threats of lawsuits filed by two registered sex offenders alleging civil rights violations.

Because of Milton’s geography, Thompson said registered offenders could claim it is difficult to find a place to live that would comply with law.

Milton’s law, Thompson said, might be viewed by courts as fully prohibiting a class of people – registered sex offenders – from residing anywhere inside town limits.

Parks and daycare facilities are specified in Milton’s law but the state’s criminal code does not mention either of those places, Thompson said.

Town officials in a press release said Delaware’s Sex Offender Management Board and the Attorney General’s Office have advised the town that the state Legislature will be called on to address the issue.

Milton and other municipalities have residency limitations that are more restrictive than those in the Delaware Code.

“Any bill will almost certainly have an effect on the town and very likely will include a provision that invalidates or places statewide limitations on any such more restrictive municipal ordinances,” the press release states.

Milton will monitor the debate and discussion as it happens at the state level and, if appropriate, will provide input to ensure the health, safety and well being of town residents.