- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

DAYTON, Minn. (AP) - A Dayton group home has notified the state and city council that it has changed plans and won’t house three men who have been approved for conditional release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

The home’s operator made the decision amid a backlash from the community and after the city passed a far-reaching ordinance that effectively made more than half of Dayton off-limits to sex offenders, The Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/2fc4Jyn ).

It is the latest setback in efforts to reintegrate sex offenders from the program, where they’ve been indefinitely committed, back into society.

A federal judge ruled last year that the sex offender program is unconstitutional and ordered the state to release offenders who no longer required confinement. Since then, about 50 jurisdictions have enacted measures that limit where sex offenders can live, including ordinances that ban them from living near schools, parks and other public spaces.

As a result, a growing number of people who have been cleared for release from the program are stuck at the secure facility in St. Peter because they have nowhere to go.

Dayton City Council members received notice Tuesday from the operator of the group home, REM Minnesota, Inc., that it won’t proceed with its plan to house the three men. A spokeswoman for REM Minnesota said in a statement that it would comply with the city’s ordinance and that it had already told the state it wouldn’t house the men.

The city’s ordinance bans offenders from living in several places where children congregate, including near seasonal pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Council members decided they would rather face a possible lawsuit than allow convicted sex offenders to live in their community.

“There is pride in how the community pulled together and how fast we were able to respond to the situation,” said Tim McNeil, Dayton’s mayor. “Now, the big question is: Did we go too far in the eyes of those who have the ability to sue us?”

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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