Local sex offender law violates state regulatory provisions

Like other cities, the City of Lynn in Massachusetts sought to regulate where sex offenders live. It prohibited certain sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or park and defined "school" to include all public, private, and church schools. The effect of the ordinance was to prevent sex offenders from spending a night in ninety-five percent of the city, including in a shelter or half-way house designated for sex offenders. The Supreme Judicial Court struck down the local ordinance as exceeding the scope of local government powers because it was inconsistent with state legislation establishing a sex offender registry and regulating sex offenders. Doe v. City of Lynn, 36 N.E.3d 18 (Mass. 2015). The local law effectively would make sex offenders homeless and would make it impossible for state authorities to track them to protect the public. In addition, the state statutes had a much narrower set of rules restricting where sex offenders could live.