Sex offender group sues the city of Milwaukee for discrimination

Group says laws against them are unconstitutional

A group of sex offenders is suing the city of Milwaukee over a law restricting where they can live. 

An ordinance says offenders can't live "within 2,000 feet of any school, licensed day care center, park, recreational trail, playground or any other place designated by the city as a place where children are known to congregate."

The group is speaking up about how it strictly limits where they can live. Attorney Mark Weinberg said almost 98 percent of the city is off limits.

"So little of Milwaukee is available for sex offenders to live in that they cannot find a place to live," Weinberg said.

One of the group members, Jason Latimore, was charged with rape in 1997.

"I made a mistake. I was young and not using my judgment," he said. "I have to live with this."

Latimore lives with family but wants a home of his own to raise his three kids.  He cannot find a place because of the current law. 

Six offenders are suing Milwaukee calling the ordinance unconstitutional.  Weinberg said this is a trend in Wisconsin.

"There's a competition among these municipalities of who can create the most restrictive ordinances keeping sex offenders outside the city borders," Weinberg said.

Weinberg said research shows punishing offenders after they've served time doesn't make communities safer. Rather it makes them worse because people turn to homelessness.  A mother of an offender agreed.

"They have did their time and then they put them in society and then they ain't got nowhere to live.  They sleeping from pillow to post. That's not right," said Beverly McMath.

McMath's son DiMarco McMath pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2000.

"He was 17. (Now he’s) 36," said McMath.

McMath hopes the lawsuit will help give her grown son some freedom.

"He's trying to live a normal life. He's trying to get his own house. He has his own son, raising his own son," McMath said.

Families said changing living restrictions for offenders would be life changing.

"A major weight off my back because this thing has been haunting me for 20 years," Latimore said.

This is the fifth lawsuit Weinberg filed challenging residency restrictions in Wisconsin in the last year. The attorney said he won a similar case in the village of Pleasant Prairie. In addition to Milwaukee, he filed lawsuits in Yorkville, Waukesha and Kenosha.

 

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