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Milwaukee Common Council votes to remove sex offender residency restriction: “No longer any buffer zone”

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MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Common Council voted on Wednesday, September 6th to all but eliminate the city's residency restrictions for sex offenders, and there's one sex offender in particular who likely played a big role in the change.

The council voted to remove a restriction as to where sex offenders can live. Currently, general sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of schools, day cares or parks.

Due to a lawsuit against the city by sex offenders, Alderman Michael Murphy said the city had no choice but to change the rules. Murphy said the proposal still needs to be signed off on by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, but he said the current 1,500-foot restriction limited Milwaukee sex offenders to only 115 homes that weren't close to day cares or schools.

It also created a scenario that left many sex offenders homeless.

Don Mulder

Don Mulder is a convicted sex offender who served his time, but said he still feels like he's in a prison of sorts because he has to live in a rooming house because he says there's nowhere else for him to go.

Since his release from prison, there are many accomplishments Mulder said he's proud of.

"I'm married. I've been married over a year. I graduated with a degree in March of 2016," Mulder said.

He's the lead plaintiff in that lawsuit against the city.

Lawsuit against City of Milwaukee over sex offender residency restrictions

"They've been found to be unconstitutional," Mulder said.

Alderman Michael Murphy

Murphy said he believes by eliminating the residency restrictions altogether, the DOJ will be able to better keep track of offenders because they'll have addresses.

"There is no longer any buffer zone with the exception of violent sexual offenders. They still will have to follow within the state law of 1,500 feet," Murphy said.

Murphy said a big reason for the change is the pending lawsuit.

"Quite honestly, there is a substantial amount of legal liability now resting with the city," Murphy said.

Sex offender residency restrictions -- List of addresses

"There are people who are trying. Don't paint everyone with a broad paintbrush," Mulder said.

Mulder served eight years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teen girl. If his lawsuit is successful, he could see a financial windfall from the city.

"If you didn't violate the constitutional rights that America's given us, then why would we be in this position in the first place?" Mulder said.

Milwaukee sex offender residency ordinance