Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
The Town of Franklin’s Ordinance Review Committee met Oct. 24 to discuss an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from parks and public places. Then, at the Nov. 7 Town Council meeting, the ordinance was adopted by the Town and signed by Town Manager Amie Owens and Mayor Jack Horton.
According to the Nov. 7 agenda item, the impetus for the change was “due to increasing park and other recreational facilities that the Town has under its purview.”
Owens said, “As we are planning for, and providing more recreational opportunities (parks), it is important for us to ensure the safety of those using the facilities and prohibition of sex offenders is common practice at public parks.
She added, “There has not been an uptick in any issues, it was simply part of the review of our ordinances.”
Ordinance No. 2022-03 states that the Town is “authorized and empowered to enact and amend from time-to-time ordinances providing for the preservation of the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.” Owens also noted that the language in the updated ordinance is “standard” relating to “sex offenders and areas where children congregate.”
The ordinance pertains to “registered” sex offenders with any state or federal agency and prohibits such individuals from entering “into or on any public park which is owned, operated, or maintained by the Town.”
A fine of not less than $500 and 30 days in jail is the penalty for each offense by a sex offender who violates the ordinance.
“There are 85 registered sex offenders in Franklin, N.C., a ratio of 218.90 sex offenders per 10,000 residents. … Records indicate there are 1,660 incarcerated sex offenders in North Carolina, as well as 461 offenders whose location is unknown in North Carolina due to the sex offenders being transient or their address being unmappable,” Homefact.com reports. Photographs and names of registered sex offenders are also listed on the site, as well as through the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
The Town “will post signage at our parks denoting the updated ordinance language,” stated Owens