The ACLU of Rhode Island issued the following statement today in response to a meeting held last week by the Department of Corrections’ probation and parole division, at which dozens of sex offenders were told they must leave their current residence in order to comply with a recently-enacted state law:

“In June, the General Assembly passed a law making it a crime for certain registered sex offenders to reside within 1,000 feet of a school. Last week, individuals purportedly subject to that law were given 30 days to move or else face a five-year prison sentence.

“It is the ACLU’s firm belief that, in addition to being unwarranted, misguided and counter-productive, this new law raises grave constitutional concerns. Within the month, we plan to file a lawsuit challenging the statute and seeking a court order to halt its implementation.
“It is important to emphasize the wide range of organizations – including advocates for the homeless, advocates for victims of sexual assault, the American Correctional Association, and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers – that agree these laws are ill-advised and likely to make the community less, not more, safe.

“It is unfortunate that the legislature and Governor chose to ignore that testimony when it was presented to them. It is especially disheartening and intolerable that the state has given individuals only 30 days to uproot themselves from where they may have lived for years, even if it means making them homeless.

“We are hopeful that, upon careful review by a court, this unwise law will be struck down.”