Hillsborough Co. moves to tighten law against sex offenders

- Adam Tebrugge with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida calls the proposed Hillsborough County ordinance unconstitutional. He also says it would likely require sex offenders living in Hillsborough County to become homeless, making it harder to track them and therefore more dangerous to children.

"This law is a bad idea," Tebrugge said.

Tebrugge says courts across the nation have not taken kindly to similar ordinances and legal challenges could mean high-priced lawsuits for Hillsborough County taxpayers.

"When you have these large areas like half a mile the courts are prone to strike down these ordinances because they don't provide any place for an offender to live. And we don't have banishment in this country. We don't force people to live under bridges and so if there's no meaningful alternative then the law is clearly unconstitutional," he said.

Once the Hillsborough ordinance is written, it'll be brought back to the commission and voted on twice more after public comment.

An ordinance aimed at keeping the homes of certain sex offenders farther away from places where children gather is one step closer to joining the books in Hillsborough County.

The Hillsborough County Commission voted 7-0 Wednesday to allow the county attorney to draft the ordinance. State law already requires offenders whose victims were under 16 to live at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and similar places. The ordinance proposed by commissioner Sandy Murman would more than double that distance to 2500 feet.  

Murman based the ordinance on one passed in Pasco County last year. She says it will keep children safer from the risk of sexual predators.

"Quite frankly I don't want [sex offenders] living here in Hillsborough County at all. We need to protect our children," said Murman.

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