Zero evidence to support residency restrictions

By Jesse Singal . . . On Thursday, Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times reported that “Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that governs where they can live.” In short, since 2005, sex offenders in the state can’t live within 1,000 feet of a school, and a February ruling from the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision extended that restriction to homeless shelters.

Because the onus is on sex offenders to find approved housing before they’re released, Goldstein reported, they’ve been left with very few options, especially in densely-populated New York City, where there are schools everywhere. This has led to an uncomfortable legal limbo and sparked at least one lawsuit (so far) on behalf of an offender who is still in custody even though he was supposed to be out by now.

The unfortunate thing about this situation is that laws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria. There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions and some degree of debate among experts, but this isn’t one of them. Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy: These laws don’t work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates. (see Science of US for full story)

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15 Thoughts to “Zero evidence to support residency restrictions”

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  1. Phil

    It’s too late to unbrain-wash this country’s idea of sex offenders. What no one ever touches on to slap the public AND the politicians in their faces is that these sex offenders had a time in their lives when they had no kind of criminal conviction. The point to be made here is this: No one knows who will commit the next sex offense. Just like no one knows who will commit the next convenience store robbery. Being a registered sex offender for all to see is already shameful enough, so naturally reoffending is slim. Why not tell all these brainwashed idiots that anyone of their friends, relatives and neighbors might one day end up on the registry? But of course BEFORE they commit the crime that gets them put there, they are trusted among their peers. WAKE UP AMERICA! People are not born with criminal convictions. Thank you.

    1. Rich

      Keep your head up Phil. I too at times get really down. But I have found comfort in filling my head with the “solution-based” stuff on youtube and other sites. I have been on the list since 1999 and from my perspective I believe there is truly is a sea-change going on. I have stumbled upon many articles and youtube posts featuring professors and professionals and lawyers who are beginning to speak out this crazy issue and they are backed with sound, common sense research. There really is a LOT out there going on favor of reform. When i’m feeling down, i’ll turn on the Ohio case on youtube or listen to jill levenson in Boca Raton or listen to a good session from one of the RSOL conferences and play it loud in my house! For some reason that makes me feel better. Also, Phil, I will mention here that in this process I have also found that the country as a whole is really going through some kind of waking up process in regards to the media in general, the government, Iraq, etc. We are definitely in a major transition as a society and many folks, I believe, are beginning to question and think on a deeper level about many issues. Not sure what your politics are but Ron Paul is a new discovery of mine and there is no doubt in my mind that if confronted with this issue he would be on our side. He’s a good man. Jesse Ventura too is speaking common sense as well. Just remember they might try to control the physical aspects of our life, but they can’t control our minds or our soul. Easier said than done, believe me I know and some days are better than others. I refuse to be a victim and I try to do what I can to shut out the nay sayers. They are not in charge of my happiness!

      1. shay

        what I would like to know is just who/how do they decide what sex offender reports every 3 months and which reports every 6 months just how is that decided. thank you

  2. Karen Leigh Grissom

    Thank you Phil for having a understanding of the offender and their family’s feelings of this overlaid of required laws.

  3. shelly

    I think if they paid their debt to society…leave them alone…murderers are left alone n live a free life after they pay their debt…I think the whole thing is stupid…why make them pay forever and have to live with what they done…if they served their time,leave them alone.

    1. tim

      I wanted to let u know I was just on the radio show called Coast to Coast and they tried to portray sex offender as awfull. I tried to give statistics about low recidivism rates but they didn’t want to listen. I was really happy that several other sex offenders called in as well. You can go to the Coast to Coast website and listen to the show.

      1. shay

        hello Tim I am a offender from Florida . I have to register every 3 months my question is this; is there a way I could find out who decides the reporting requirements because the paper that I signed stated that “if the offender(s) crime involved a minor the offender(s) shall be required to report every 3 months all others will report every 6 months”. well my charged did not involved a minor but they say I have to report every 3 months. I asked why I had to report every 3 months instead of every 6 but they claim not to know why. so I could really use some advice on where I can take this matter. thank you sincerly

    2. Jerry Spann

      I’m a convicted sex offender out of Missouri. In Missouri they make you take treatment which is ran by other offenders, and if they don’t like you they will have you terminated from the program.
      If you do not complete thr program they make you do 100 percent of your time then release you with no place to go so you are homeless if you have no family to help you, and even after you’ve paid your debt to society you still have to suffer.

  4. Kathie

    In Michigan a sex offender died of exposure in the winter several years ago after being turned away from a homeless shelter that was near a school would not take him in for that reason. A Federal court since ruled that homeless shelters do not count as “residences”. See

  5. maggy

    Theses restrictions are totally not needed. My son lives with me in a small town in Ma. The police arrested my son for “not registering” in June, he just returned from Mississippi. They said he was here for two weeks, which was a lie. I have two sons, and there was no reason they would know the difference. Some one called and my son from Mississippi was arrested. He is out on $10,000.00 cash bail. Plus a GPS.He has been indited for trial, and is suppose to pay a large fee for being near a public beach daily. The judge was adamant about him staying with me, so there really is nothing the police can do. They should drop the fake charges and let us be on our way. Poiice with this giddy up attitude, cause a lot of fear. They wanted my son out, but they want a piece of flesh also. Not too many years ago they were being sued for $6,000.000 dollars in negligence in the death of a 21 year old. Anyways these restriction laws are of no use do nothing to keep children safe, and make it hard for all of to live. We live in a building filled with children and the neigbors are not concerned about my son, They know who he is and why the police stop by to check in. My understanding is that the restriction laws are made by towns and really are not laws???????? Just something the towns/states came up with to make our lives more miserable. Look a our governor Patrick Duvaul, his brother in law gets a free pass?????? OKKKKKKKKKKKK

  6. Rich Miller

    We have open borders inviting people in, pass go and collect your benefits, we have law enforcement chasing people around town with no current charges to; fill out nothing more than a change of address card; and arrest them if they don’t, and then we have maniacs trying to behead people; and we are doing what about that, and then they are trying to keep the registered sex offenders that committed a crime 35 years ago out of public parks? Am I missing something?

  7. Jeffery

    I think someone posted this article somewhere on this webiste already and I don’t really understand a lot fo the smarter stuff way its written but this guy talks about a lot of different laws and rules in a way that really seems to make them seem unfair:

    1. Jeffery

      sorry, except he doesn’t talk about resident rules or zones

  8. tom

    In regards to registration requirements, you will have to be your own advocate. If your conviction paperwork states a particular type of registration requirement, that will be the rule in play. If you think there is a mistake in enforcement, you need to speak with the local police department. If that is not effective you will need to hire an attorney and see if he will take civil legal action on your behalf. Remember that NO ONE will help you, you must help yourself. There are some good people here, and elsewhere, but you are your own supporter and motivator. We sex offenders gave up the high ground for life when we committed an offense: at least that’s the way the general public sees it. Good luck.