Sex Offenders and Halfway Houses in Community Safety Zones
By Jenifer Jones
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that allows probationers who are registered sex offenders to reside in an assigned halfway house or supervised living center within a community safety zone. Gregg Sattizahn is the legal council for the Unified Judicial System. He says in 2010 the legislature made changes that allow sex offender parolees to live in halfway houses within 500 feet of public pools, parks, schools, or playgrounds. He says this bill treats probationers the same way.
"This issue has come up," Sattizahn says. "For example, in Sioux Falls the Arch is in a community safety zone, in Rapid City, the Friendship House is within a community safety zone. So the proposal would make parolees and probationers treated the same and have the ability to be assigned to those facilities. And current law does restrict the ability for us to utilize those facilities at this time and this would eliminate that and provide that as a resource, particularly in areas where there's not other resources available."
Opponents say the bill loosens restrictions and will increase the number of sex offenders in community safety zones. The bill passed with a vote of nine to three and now goes to the House floor.
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