Changes could soon come to sex offender restrictions in Sun Prai - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Changes could soon come to sex offender restrictions in Sun Prairie

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- They're the buffer zones you may have in your community. They're the distances sex offenders must keep from places where kids usually are. But in one local community, city leaders are about to shorten those distances. 

For mother of two Sara Mork, the safety of her little ones is a top priority.

"Outside of the four walls of the home, you want not just your kids to be safe but you want to know that you're community is looking after them as well," said Mork.

However, Mork feels that safety blanket could soon be threatened because of a policy change regarding sex offenders.

Right now, a registered sex offender must live or stay at least 1500 feet away from a school or a place where kids may be. But the new ordinance would shorten that distance to 500 feet. 

Currently, when you factor in all the churches, playgrounds, schools, parks, daycares, trails and other places where kids may hang out, city leaders say sex offenders have no where to live in Sun Prairie. 

"That distance is a myth protection," said Al Guyant, the president of Sun Prairie's city council. 

"If you're 500 feet from a park, or 1500 feet from a park you can't yell and have a conversation with a kid," he added, noting a sex offender has to communicate with the child in order to entice them closer. 

Other Wisconsin communities have lost pricey lawsuits to sex offenders because of the 1500 feet restriction and others alike. In several decisions, judges ruled it unconstitutional to ban a person from living in a community. 

They are the same lawsuits Guyant said are inevitable if the council doesn't act. 

"If a bunch of lawsuits are brought, it could cost millions of dollars," said Guyant. 

He said lawsuits would mean the city wouldn't be able to afford hiring four new firefighters that the department needs, or improving street conditions. 

"It's safety impacting safety here," he said. 

But Mork believes her children and others should be better protected.

"From 500 feet, I could potentially expose myself. From 500 feet, with the advancements of technology, I can obtain what can be used as kid porn. It's not just a physical engagement that we have to worry about in this century," she said.

The city council will vote on the new ordinance at a public meeting on January 16th. Guyant  hopes to add an amendment at a later date that would also keep sex offenders from talking to minors anywhere if they're alone. 

Guyant believes the council will pass the new ordinance later this month since it already passed in a subcommittee. 

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