Cooperating Attorneys Chaney Hall and Dan Wolcott of Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP and ACLU-DE are representing the operator of two shelters that provide housing and other assistance for released prisoners, including registered sex offenders.
The shelters had been operating without incident when the registered offenders were told they had to find other housing because a daycare center had opened nearby. They were told they would be arrested if they did not move.
There was no claim that the shelters were doing something wrong, and no one denied that they were providing a valuable service. Nevertheless, after the daycare center opened, police told the registered offenders that they had become violators of a law saying registered offenders cannot live within 500 feet of a school.
It did not matter to the police that the shelter residents were there first. Nor did it matter that if the city’s legal position is correct, registered sex offenders cannot safely live anywhere, since they can be forced to vacate any residence if a daycare center opens nearby.
ACLU-DE believes that is an incorrect interpretation of the law, and that it violates the due process clause of the Constitution. It is also mystifying, since no one benefits if the government drives registered sex offenders out of shelters where they receive counseling and support and into homelessness.
ACLU-DE and Cooperating Counsel filed suit in Chancery Court seeking a ruling that the shelter residents were not violating the statute, a temporary restraining order preventing the police from carrying out the threatened arrests, and other relief.
After a hearing, Chancery denied the motion for a temporary restraining order but left the rest of the case in place. Litigation will continue.
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