WILTON — After more study and research, Selectman Tiffany Maiuri withdrew her proposal for the town to consider drafting a sex offender residency ordinance during a board meeting Tuesday.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed to drop the issue. They tabled action at a previous meeting to seek more information.

Since then, Maiuri has received numerous comments for and against consideration of the ordinance from individuals and non-profits from around the country, she said in an announcement before the meeting. This led her to more research.

“I’ve read hundreds of pages of studies,” she told the board. “The most current data suggests that residency ordinances, such as the one I asked to be considered, may be counterproductive to the outcome of making the community a safer place to live.”

After learning several sex offenders who were convicted on felony charges are living across the street from a town park and schools, Maiuri proposed the board consider asking the Ordinance Committee to draft a law. It was to have restricted people convicted of a felony committed on a child under age 14 from living within 750 feet of a public or private school or municipal property used by children, such as a park, recreation facility or athletic field.

Her request was based on an ordinance from the town of Sebago that aimed to protect children because sex offenders who prey on children are at a higher risk of reoffending, Maiuri previously told the board.

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After learning about the residences of some sex offenders living near parks and schools in Wilton, Maiuri said she read a 2011 study from “the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service which tracked 900 sex offenders released from prison or probation in Maine between 2004 and 2008.”

This raised her concern because it didn’t include a risk assessment to identify if or which sex offenders are at greater risk for reoffending, she said. She decided it was “prudent to ask the ordinance committee to look into the matter.”

Along with written data on residency ordinances, Maiuri said she has since spoken with experts in criminal justice and sex offender recidivism.

“All have affirmed that an ordinance in itself is not the answer,” she said. “As Sen. (Tom) Saviello correctly pointed out at our last selectmen meeting it could also create a ‘false sense of security.'”

Wilton police Chief Heidi Wilcox also agreed the proposed ordinance would likely not be a means to an end, Maiuri said.

The ordinance has the potential to create other issues for the town, including homelessness, she said. Research also tends to indicate that most children are assaulted at a home setting rather than at a public facility.

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Maiuri did not propose an alternative after withdrawing her ordinance proposal.

“There is no magic ‘silver bullet’ to address the issue of keeping our children and community safer,” she said.

Instead, she intends to continue to explore how to increase safety without increasing burdens on taxpayers or limited resources, she said.

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