[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Springfield 7-17-2007 (Title 8, Ch. 8.36, of the 1986 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City of Springfield recognizes that it has a compelling interest in protecting children from the threat of sexual abuse; and
Due to a child's vulnerability, the City Council is compelled to take a protective role by adopting laws that are designed to protect the City's children from registered sex offenders; and
Registered sex offenders continue to reside in direct proximity to public and private schools; and
Without adequate protective ordinances at the local level, registered sex offenders will continue to move to buildings, domiciles or residences in proximity to schools; and
The City Council wishes to protect children in the education environment.
The City Council finds that sex offenders pose a significant threat to the health and safety of the community and especially to children, whose age and inexperience make them particularly vulnerable to the heinous and reprehensible acts of these offenders.
The rate of recidivism among sex offenders is high. Limiting the frequency of contact between registered sex offenders and areas where children are likely to congregate reduces the opportunity and temptation, and can reduce the risk of repeated acts against children.
After careful consideration, the City Council finds that this legislation is the most narrowly tailored means of limiting, to the fullest extent possible, the opportunity for registered sex offenders to approach or otherwise come in contact with children in places where children would naturally congregate, and that the protection of the health and safety of our children is a compelling governmental interest.
It is the intent of this chapter to serve and to protect the City's compelling interest to promote, protect and improve the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City by creating areas around locations where children regularly congregate in concentrated numbers wherein certain registered sex offenders are prohibited from loitering and establishing temporary or permanent residence.
By the enactment of this or any other legislation, the City Council understands that it cannot remove the threat posed to or guarantee the safety of children, or assure the public that registered sex offenders will comply with the mandates of this chapter. This chapter is intended to create a civil, nonpunitive regulatory scheme in order to protect children to the extent possible under the circumstances and not as a punitive measure of any kind.
Registered sex offenders pose a clear threat to the children residing or visiting in the community. Because registered sex offenders are more likely than any other type of offender to re-offend for another sexual offense, the City Council of the City of Springfield desires to impose safety precautions in furtherance of the goal of protecting the children. The purpose of this chapter is to reduce the potential risk of harm to children of the community by impacting the ability for registered sex offenders to be in contact with unsuspecting children in locations that are primarily designed for use by or are primarily used by children, namely, the grounds of a public or private school for children, a park, or other private or public recreational facility. The City of Springfield desires to add location restrictions to such offenders where the state law is silent.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- CHILD or CHILDREN
- Persons under 18 years of age.
- ESTABLISHING A RESIDENCE
- To set up or bring into being a dwelling place or an abode where a person sleeps, which may include more than one location, and may be mobile or transitory, or by means of purchasing real property or entering into a lease or rental agreement for real property (including a renewal or extension of a prior agreement whether through written execution or automatic renewal).
- Includes active and passive public land designated for recreational or athletic use by the City of Springfield, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or other governmental subdivision, and located within the City of Springfield.
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE
- A place where a person lives, abides, lodges, or resides for 14 or more consecutive days.
- RECREATIONAL FACILITY
- Includes, but is not limited to, a playground, a forest preserve, conservation area, jogging trail or running track, hiking trail, beach, water park, wading pool, soccer field, baseball field, football field, basketball court or hockey rink.
- REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER
- Any person required to register as a sex offender pursuant to MGL c. 6, § 178C, who is finally classified as a Level 2 or Level 3 offender pursuant to the guidelines of the Sex Offender Registry Board and who has committed a sex offense against a child.
- Any public or private educational facility that provides educational instruction to children in grades Kindergarten through 12.
- SEX OFFENDER and SEX OFFENSE
- Shall have the same meaning as provided for in MGL c. 6, § 178C.
- TEMPORARY RESIDENCE
- A place where a person lives, abides, lodges, or resides for a period of less than 14 consecutive days or 14 days in the aggregate during any calendar year, which is not the person's permanent address or place where the person routinely lives, abides, lodges, or resides and which is not the person's permanent residence; but "temporary residence" shall not include residence at a hospital or other health-care or medical facility for fewer than 14 consecutive days or 14 days in the aggregate during any calendar year.
Prohibition. A registered sex offender is prohibited from establishing a permanent residence or temporary residence within 500 feet of any school.
Evidentiary matters; measurements. For purposes of determining the minimum distance separation, the distance shall be measured by following a straight line from the outer property line of the permanent or temporary residence to the nearest outer property line of any school.
Exceptions. A registered sex offender residing within 500 feet of any school does not commit a violation of this section if any of the following apply:
The registered sex offender established the permanent residence prior to the effective date of this chapter, and:
Permanent residence was established by purchasing the real property where the residence is established; or
Permanent residence was established through a valid, fixed-term, written lease or rental agreement, executed prior to the effective date of this chapter, the term of which has not yet expired.
The registered sex offender is a minor.
The school within 500 feet of the registered sex offender's permanent residence was opened after the registered sex offender established the permanent residence.
Notice to move. A registered sex offender who resides on a permanent or temporary basis within 500 feet of any school shall be in violation of this section and shall, within 30 days of receipt of written notice of the registered sex offender's noncompliance with this chapter, move from said location to a new location, but said location may not be within 500 feet of any school. It shall constitute a separate violation for each day beyond the 30 days the registered sex offender continues to reside within 500 feet of any school. Furthermore, it shall be a violation each day that a registered sex offender shall move from one location in the City to another that is within 500 feet of any school.
A registered sex offender is prohibited from entering upon the premises of a school unless previously authorized specifically in writing by the school administration.
A registered sex offender shall not enter a park or any other private or public recreational facility when children are present and approach, contact, or communicate with any child present, unless the registered sex offender is a parent or guardian of a child present in such park or any other private or public recreational facility.
A registered sex offender shall not loiter on or within 500 feet of any property on which there is a school, park or any other private or public recreational facility. Under this subsection, "loiter" means to enter or remain on property while having no legitimate purpose therefor or, if a legitimate purpose exists, remaining on that property beyond the time necessary to fulfill that purpose. See also Springfield City Ordinance. No person shall be in violation of this subsection unless he or she has first been asked to leave a prohibited location by a person authorized to exclude the registered sex offender from the premises. An authorized person includes, but is not limited to, any law enforcement officer, any owner or manager of the premises, or principal or teacher, if the premises are a school.
The prohibitions defined in this section shall not be construed or enforced so as to prohibit a registered sex offender from exercising his or her right to vote in any federal, state or municipal election, or from attending any religious service.
The prohibitions defined in this section do not apply to a registered sex offender's place of residence when such residence is excepted under this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not be applicable to registered sex offenders incarcerated in any facilities owned, maintained and/or operated by the City of Springfield.
The Springfield Police Department shall be charged with the enforcement of this chapter.
A map depicting the prohibited areas shall be created by the City and maintained by the Springfield Police Department. The City shall review the map annually for changes. The map and a copy of this chapter will be available to the public at the Springfield Police Department and on the City of Springfield's website.
Any violation of § 304-5 shall result in: (1) a noncriminal fine not exceeding $300 for a first violation; (2) a noncriminal fine not exceeding $300 for each additional violation of this provision. A registered sex offender commits a separate offense for each and every day or violation of this chapter.
First offense of any violation of this chapter by registered sex offender: noncriminal fine of $300 and notification to offender that he/she has 30 days to move.
Any subsequent offense of this chapter by a registered sex offender: noncriminal fine of $300 and notification to offender's landlord, parole officer and/or probation officer, and the Commonwealth's Sex Offender Registry Board that the sex offender has violated a municipal ordinance.