MILLINOCKET (AP) – Town officials hope Millinocket will soon become the first municipality in Maine with an ordinance barring convicted sex offenders from loitering at parks, schools and other places frequented by children.

Maine Municipal Association attorneys reviewed the proposed ordinance and indicated that it would pass legal muster, according to Town Manager Eugene Conlogue. “They see no reason why we cannot do it,” he said.

The proposed ordinance surfaced after school officials and police told a public forum that they lacked authority to prevent a handful of convicted sex offenders listed on the state’s online registry from loitering around schools and parks.

Neither the offenders’ probation conditions nor the law bar them from such locations.

Millinocket, a papermaking town of about 5,200, has eight sex offenders on the registry, according to Conlogue, who said he was unaware of how that total compared with other towns of similar size.

Conlogue had been awaiting an MMA review of the proposed ordinance since early June. The review took longer than expected because the state lacks a body of case law with which the proposal can be vetted.

“On something like this, we want to get the best information that we can before we proceed,” the town manager said.

He said the Maine Municipal Association determined that no Maine town or city had such an ordinance on the books, and it could find nothing in state law to prohibit such a measure.

Conlogue hopes that the Town Council will take up the proposal Aug. 24, with other public hearings scheduled in September.

“We think there is enough to this to warrant that,” he said. “We want as much (public) comment on it as we can get.”

Angel Cyr, whose children have been approached by convicted sex offenders, said she was pleased that officials were moving ahead with the ordinance proposal.

“I am glad that the town is behind us in helping with everything,” Cyr said. “I know that these things take time. I would like help to happen instantly, but it’s not going to. It can’t. It is happening in a good amount of time.”

Residents have papered neighborhoods with fliers about the presence of sex offenders and police have said that they try to keep tabs on the individuals in question.

The Maine Civil Liberties Union said it opposes ordinances such as the one proposed for Millinocket, noting that some courts around the country have found them to be unconstitutional.

“Restrictions such as these have taken on an increasingly close resemblance to banishment,” said Shenna Bellows, the MCLU’s executive director. “There is little evidence to suggest that such restrictions reduce recidivism and good reason to think that they may exacerbate the risk.”

Bellows also noted that such ordinances could make monitoring of sex offenders more difficult by driving them into hiding.


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