CAÑON CITY – A proposed ordinance to restrict where Sexually Violent Predators and sex offenders can live in Canon City will be introduced during a city council meeting Monday night.
The intent of the proposal is to prevent people convicted of sex offenses from moving within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, library, or park with playground equipment. It would also prevent property owners from leasing to offenders.
The proposed fine is $2,650 per day, which is part of the city’s existing municipal code’s general penalty provision.
State law does not provide any provisions for restrictions about where offenders can live. The choice to enact ordinances is left up to local governments.
Ordinance No. 28 begins with:
“WHEREAS, the City Council of Cañon City has taken note of numerous occurences in which convicted sexual predators and certain sex offenders who have been released from custody repeat the unlawful acts for which they have been convicted.”
“WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Cañon City finds that the recidivism rate for released sexual predators and the specified sex offenders is high, especially for those who commit their crimes against children.”
The draft ordinance states the change “is intended to serve the City’s compelling interest to promote, protect and improve public health, safety and welfare…”
The request for the ordinance came from Daric R. Harvey, Chief of Police for Cañon City. His letter to council notes that last fall his department received several complaints about suspicious behavior by someone who lives near a school playground.
Officers checked out the person to find they are on parole and under supervision by the Sex Offender Management Board. They found no criminal activity taking place, and the chief notes there is currently nothing illegal about the registered sex offender living right next to the school.
The ordinance as currently written would not impact offenders who already live within 1,000 feet of the listed facilities, but changing residences would limit their housing options. Furthermore, any minors in the state foster care system would be exempt.
According to Chief Harvey, his city has a higher per capita population of sex offenders, with 89 in his jurisdiction, 36 of which live within 1,000 feet of areas where children congregate.
- Cañon City – 5.57 offenders per 1,000 residents
- Fremont County – 3.46 offenders per 1,000 residents
- El Paso County – 2.40 offenders per 1,000 residents
- Pueblo County – 3.54 offenders per 1,000 residents
(Source: Cañon City Police Department)
The Colorado Sex Offender Management Board has recommended against prohibiting where sex offenders can live. A white paper on the subject cites studies that show there is no evidence of a higher proportion of repeat offenses based on proximity to schools. The paper also suggests that moving offenders to different areas only provides a false sense of security, in part because where someone sleeps does not define where they may offend, according to the authors.
Just one of the suggestions from the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board for local governments is to approve the use of or increase the use of Shared Living Arrangements (SLAs) where multiple moderate to high-risk offenders live in the same building or home. Across Colorado, there are local governments that prohibit SLAs.
The city council meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. at 128 Main Street.
READ THE FULL PROPOSED ORDINANCE BELOW: