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States, municipalities ignoring solid facts while increasing residency restrictions

By Jen Fifield . . . In the last couple of years, the number of sex offenders living on the streets of Milwaukee has skyrocketed, from 16 to 205. The sharp increase comes as no surprise to some. There are few places for them to live.

In October 2014, the City of Milwaukee began prohibiting violent and repeat sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school, day care center or park. That left just 55 addresses where offenders can legally move within the 100-square-mile city. And their living options soon will become more limited across Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in February that prohibits violent sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of any school, day care, youth center, church or public park in the state.

Cities and states continue to enact laws that restrict where convicted sex offenders can live, applying the rules to violent offenders such as pedophiles and rapists, and, in some cases, those convicted of nonviolent sex crimes, such as indecent exposure. They are doing so despite studies that show the laws can make more offenders homeless, or make it more likely they will falsely report or not disclose where they are living. And though the laws are meant to protect children from being victimized by repeat offenders, they do not reduce the likelihood that sex offenders will be convicted again for sexual offenses, according to multiple studies, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In all, 27 states have blanket rules restricting how close sex offenders can live to schools and other places where groups of children may gather, according to research by the Council of State Governments. Hundreds of cities also have restrictions, according to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). And many laws are becoming more restrictive — along with Wisconsin, they expanded last year in Arkansas, Montana, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

The restrictions can make offenders’ lives less stable by severely limiting their housing options, and can push them away from family, jobs and social support — all of which make it more likely they will abuse again, according to researchers who have studied the laws, such as Kelly Socia, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

“If [the laws] don’t work, and they make life more difficult for sex offenders, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot,” Socia said.  (Please read full article in Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts)

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30 thoughts on “States, municipalities ignoring solid facts while increasing residency restrictions

  1. Monique

    I’m from WI…. south of the MILWAUKEE area… where I live, you can’t even live within a six block radius of another SO! Luckily, p and p doesn’t enforce this – nor does the local PD – unless you are an SBN. The situation is getting crazy, though… in most cases, what you did was indicative of who you were at the time of the offense, not who you have become since then. The public at large is tragically unaware of the facts concerning recidivism for SO’s, or the difference in offense types. The legal definitions need to be refined as well… Grabbing a butt is a violent crime? On what planet? And worth a 10 year sentence? For a first offense? On another note…I believe that part of the issue is SO responses to situations. My friend the SO, who I’m speaking for since he’s not allowed Internet access (even though his butt-grabbing had nothing to do with the internet, mind you) isn’t even fazed by his restrictions – he does what he wants to, and it just so happens that how he lives his life is within the boundaries of his rules. So what that he has to register, he says? Gives his high-school buddies an easier way to find him and say hi, lol. If you think your conditions are unfair and based on false statistics or bogus law, DO SOMETHING. Don’t postulate on the internet, go to community meeting, county board meetings, and arm them or confront them with the facts. Educate them. Show them the truth. What do you have to lose? Start local. Get others in your predicament to do the same. My buddy’s therapist – the DOC paid therapist – actually advocates this. Even people that work for the man think you get a raw deal.

  2. charles

    People! Are you serious? Do you actually think that state & federal legislators DON’T KNOW or have not studied the emperical evidence on SO laws? Take for example the literally hundreds of studies done on residency restrictions which all have concluded that proxmity to. a school, daycare, park, etc.,has absolutley no public safety value at all and if anything these laws are only in place to pacify soccor moms in the suburbia. These people know this, to say otherwise is to say that these legislators are complete dumb asses. Indeed, the real reason these laws are passed is exact punishment, retribution, disenfranchisement and banishment on people who have commiteed sex crimes. They only use the mantra “To protect children” as the public face of these laws—think of the two faced Roman God” Janus”. Janus meant beginnings, gates, transitions, and doorways which are what SO laws are: beginings, gates transitions and doorways but to where? The evidence of this is the continuing proliferation of SO laws across the Country. And there has to be a logical conclucion to these laws at some point—but where, when? Take Nazi Germany circa 1930s for example and their “Jewish Question”. We all know what their “Final Solution” was to this question. Could SO registration of an SO’s home address be just for the purpose of keeping track of an SOs whereabouts to make it easier for the Gestapo, I mean authorities to find and arrest the SO when that day comes? Think people—where is this thing heading???

  3. David Kennerly

    “…applying the rules to violent offenders such as pedophiles and rapists”.

    The term “violent” is getting thrown around very carelessly here, as it is elsewhere in popular discourse.

    If anything, “pedophilia” is far LESS likely to take “violent” forms than are sexual assaults, such as in rape of adults.

    Unless, of course, you are embracing the historically recent redefinition of the word “violence” to include decidedly non-violent acts, as has been done by government statutorially.

    In this scheme, any sexual contact with someone under an arbitrary age of fourteen or so is now considered to be “violent.”

    The problem with that is that it uses language to obscure, rather than to enhance, the clear understanding of criminal circumstance and, more cynically, it does so with the goal of inflaming hysterical overreaction in an unwitting public.

  4. truth

    Welcome to Wisconsin! Our motto should be: “Not as Bad as Florida But Almost”.

    I live in an area that is becoming famous for it’s sex stings. Eau Claire…might as well just say it. My head explodes every time the chief of police has a news conference after a sting. I’m trying to respond to news articles with my own take of the situation but nobody will post it. Plus 90% of sites require a facebook account.

    What’s happening is they post ads on craigslist as adults then change their age to 14 or 15. The agents are very aggressive in convincing the target to agree to a meet. After a sting, the police chief has a press conference and expresses outrage and disbelief that these ads “posted by children” received 1000’s of hits. Mr. Chief neglects to mention the fact the ads initially claimed the person was 18. Although one can argue that an 18 yo is still a child it’s NOT the way the story is told by chief and reported in the media. He is doing everything to give the impression that the internet is crawling with dangerous child predators who are coming after YOUR children.That’s bad enough, but the chief takes it even further by calling these crimes “child sex trafficking”. So now we have a human trafficking/child sex trafficking problem!! Which is a win-win for the police- they get to look good AND receive federal money to combat “child-sex trafficking”. It’s all lies and distortions. Not saying there isn’t such a thing (child-sex trafficking) but i just don’t believe it’s an epidemic here in “cow country”. When i try to post the truth in response to the local news articles no local paper will touch it. But of course not…they like the circus just as much as the chief does.

    This department recently created a website for donations for their Internet Crimes Against Children task force!!! As if the millions (yes, MILLIONS) they’ve already received is enough. Far as i can tell from doing internet searches, this task force, which has been operating for nearly 10 years, has never caught one person committing an actual offense against a child. I thought stings, in order to be legal, were to be used as tools to fight ongoing criminal activity- NOT to encourage otherwise law-abiding citizens into breaking the law.

    It seems like this year they’ve stepped it up. Here’s an article about a vehicle they seized in the latest bust: http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Local/Briefs/2016/04/29/Chippewa-Falls-PD-to-use-seized-vehicle.html

    Sex stings are a damn good business.

    According to my therapist, there’s currently 29 men in S.O. treatment in the Chippewa Valley that are there for sex stings. Seems like a lot, considering the population.

    My hope is that someone will get the the balls to finally take this rogue department on in a lawsuit.

    1. truth

      To be sure- i’m not here advocating for older men to hook up with teenagers. It’s just that it should be noted that these stings are taking place in the “casual encounters” section of an online dating site. So it should hardly be shocking that an 18 year old posting on such a site would receive a lot of attention.

      I can think of lots of reasons why an older man should not be meeting 14 and 15 year olds for sex. But to do a “bait and switch” and aggressively push those men to break the law seems unethical at best.

      I know i’m rambling on here, but i this issue has been eating me alive and when i read the article about my home state i couldn’t help but throw all this out there too.

      Here’s a state where we are cutting food stamp programs, public education and benefits/wages for public employees- yet there’s money in the budget for this sex crime nonsense.

    2. Truth, I just want to reply on your comment just a little bit. You are right on target about these whole operations. I just recently went to see my probation officer, he usually comes to my house but I told him I would stop in.
      I don’t enjoy it one bit but than again I tell it like it is and my probation officer just doesn’t say anything. In fact he will do everything he can to recon me with this whole scheme.
      Sure they gave me a break if you want to call it that but in the end they want to win and make your life miserable. If you look all this up it is no different than a Samson and Delilah story. If you compare story to this it is a good example in this age.
      I mean lets face it they were gone to come and get me anyway they said so I obliged them and went down their but I didn’t ask for any sex which was the main point of their mission after harassing me even when I was debating on going down there they had the gull to call me.
      Now my probation said I don’t have the money to fight it. Well I let God fight my battles.
      All people on this RSOL need to stand up and say. We’re not gonna take it. Being duped is one thing but being duped by those who suppose to protect and serve you is another. So if you want to talk about a Minister of God, they serve their own God whoever that is.

      1. d

        Hey James, I figured you could relate to my story. As a former practicing alcoholic I’ve had dozens of encounters with the police. Most cops have been pretty decent. I don’t live in the city i got busted in, thankfully. I’m blessed that the local cops where I’m currently living have been extremely kind to me. After my arrest where I was portrayed in the media as a “child-sex trafficker” there was some vandalism and even a brick thrown through my window. Very scary. The local police turned out to be extremely helpful and non-judgemental. When I happen to see them around town they usually smile and greet me. It’s a little weird…but considering how it is for most SO’s I’m quite lucky.

        However, those cops that run the stings are a whole other breed. I agree with you James that they make a mockery out of the ideal “Protect and Serve”. Protecting and serving their own interests is more like it. Instead of catching criminals they are CREATING criminals. And for what? Money!!!

        I know I messed up and should not have agreed to meet and I’ve done lots of growing and soul-searching in years since I made my mistake. But there’s no way I deserve the punishment I have to face the rest of my life. There was no victim. Period. Doesn’t make make me feel like an “elite”. Quite the contrary. On the registry we’re all the same.

    3. Daryl A. Young

      amen brother, too much control & government interference that place our very constitutional rights as convicted felons that have served our prison term & payed our debt to society to a second chance at living once again without being continually oppressed by agendas, injustices by the court system & hateful evil persons in high places. Untruthful SOR website info ( like myself,they have age of victim as UNKNOWN which is BS & they know it)Creating a lawsuit against state of Virginia not for money, but to set the record straight. I do not hide in my room in despondency to a society (not all) That want to point fingers at Felons convicted of a sex offense. I am out in the open living the best am able to with a clear conscience. In Christ, Romans 8:18

      1. d

        yeah man. Best revenge is to live well and be happy. I like your attitude!

    4. Sue

      They have to increase the spending each year to make sure they get more money for next year……
      I also live in EC

      1. d

        ….but an armored vehicle in Eau Claire? That’s outrageous!

  5. Tod

    Another negative article on how things are continuing to get worse – honestly tired of hearing how the ‘statistics/facts’ saying one thing, but yet the courts, Christian GOP, and the general public continues to ignore them. What is the point of telling us how bad it is? Obviously stats and facts have NO bearing on decisions that are being made – maybe, just maybe another approach needs to be considered – not sure what that is, but what you keep telling us, and what we keep hearing is hopelessness – maybe that is all there is, but I believe that if the FOCUS is on what CAN be done, what CAN help, what IS helping, and how we CAN make a difference might get MORE people involved to SUPPORT CHANGE – all I heard for 11 years was negativity, the Colorado SOMB has finally realized that does NOT work, maybe the articles can do that too – might not be possible, but if it is, that would do more good than what I read now. Living in another country where I don’t have to register is looking really good to me!

    1. rwvnral

      You may be missing the point here. It is SIGNIFICANT that a source as respected as the Pew Charitable Trusts is even giving this issue attention. That’s a HUGE deal. This thing is going to take time. Problems faced by people affected will not simply “go away” because we’re tired of hearing bad news. Truth is, the news is generally pretty darned bad. BUT, the good news is that we are GROWING in the numbers of others who VIEW the matter as bad. And that is something to be happy about. RSOL is not here to paint a rosy picture about things. That’s not our function. We are here to keep you informed and to facilitate an organized approach to combating the circumstances everyone is facing. There is nothing at all “bad” about the Pew study. It’s great news. And it will help to press policy makers for a response about why it is that the continue to ignore the facts. How is that depressing?

      1. d

        Thank you RSOL for everything you do. When i discovered this site a few years ago it was a life-saver. I feel you Tod…sometimes it seems like nothing but bad news. To be a registered citizen sucks.

        I try to spend a little time every day reading the articles posted here, making comments, going to other sites and doing the same. Knowledge is power. Even though i’m just a dishwasher making barely minimum wage i still donate something every month. We all have to do what we can do.

        It’s also important to try to stay positive and not give in to despair. Most of us are good people who made a poor decision. Sometimes the bad news is overwhelming. Me, I try to do something every day where i don’t think about it. If i allowed myself to, i would obsess about being a S.O. until i finally went insane.

        Thanks again RSOL for being a light in the darkness….

  6. Maestro

    Why do they insist on using the term “violent” sex offenders? We all know they mean ALL sex offenders because in their minds (and the public’s minds) every offense of a sexual nature must surely be “violent”.
    Their ignorance and arrogance and thirst for votes makes you wanna vomit.

    1. d

      If every expert agrees that residency restrictions don’t work why do they keep trying to enact such laws? This is a quote from the article showing the clueless of some legislators:

      “Kleefisch calls “a patchwork quilt of sex offender laws” across the state, because it does not supersede local rules. He introduced a bill that would ban local restrictions and create a 1,000-foot restriction statewide — a smaller restriction than some cities have currently. “Having a statewide, easily understandable residency requirement will mean we can watch them,” Kleefisch said. “If they are underground or off the grid, God only knows what they’re doing.”

      God only knows what we are doing? Sheeeshh. God only knows what THEY are doing!

    2. Tara

      When I went to prison, I made sure EVERYONE around me realized how little you have to do in order to become a registered citizen! My parents always used the restroom outside when camping. Little things that could potentially be taken WAY out of context.

  7. CHARLIE

    It is fear…..like a witch hunt. Cause fear control the populace. The military laws are the worst – penetration have ever so slight can constitute rape. I wanted a divorce…wife got her daughter to say I touched her. Rape kit done – no signs of abuse or trauma. Hymen check, again no signs of abuse or trauma – teen still a virgin. She did the same thing to her first husband. She gets victim pay, I go to prison with ten year sentence – lose over 17 years of service. Get out to be a tier three sex offender – for Rape of a minor with no evidence of a crime. Again no way to defend against military law….that is why they have a 98 percent conviction rate. Interesting note….check out Operation Flicker.

  8. Invictus

    The most serious indictment of the U.S.’s pogrom of sexual non-conformists is that of the profound indifference of the uncaring public to the sufferings of yet another minority group. The callous brutality of ever harsher laws is ignored by the general populace even as they applaud the soul-less buffoons who cause them to come into being. These laws are enacted without concern for the facts because such facts contradict their often religiously blinded opinions. What does it matter if lives are devastated and families are rent asunder by punishments that bear no justifiable relationship to the actual harm caused by the offenses? A life sentence, which is what S.O. registration truly is, for the mere act of downloading proscribed pictures is a hellishly cruel and, on the face of it, unconstitutional punishment for a non-violent and victim-less offense. As an S.O. in his seventies, I will not likely be alive when the insanity of these laws becomes so evident that justice and changes will be imperative. I am certain, however, that in time they will be seen in the same light as we now view the Indian Removal Act of 1830, The Dred Scott decision of 1857, the “separate but equal” Plessey v. Ferguson decision of 1896, the Liquor Prohibition era of the 20’s, the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South, and Roosevelt’s E.O. 9066 (Japanese Internment) of 1942. The evolving and surely-to-be victorious struggles to overturn the anti-marijuana and anti-gay laws of the present age will be soon joined by a rising tide of objection to legal measures that do far more harm than good, that incarcerate minorities of all stripes disproportionately, and wantonly destroys the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. My opinion does not include those who have committed hands-on, verifiable and significantly harmful offenses against others, but I recognize that as human beings such offenders are also deserving of genuine care and honest rehabilitation.

  9. Emil S

    The conscience of so called Christian politicians is sadly laughable when they are more concerned about getting elected rather than doing what is right.

  10. Paul

    Sorry, this has nothing to do with this particular story but since there is no place on here to start a separate topic, I thought I’d share this. It’s interesting when members of the judiciary happened to be charged with sex crimes when judges are the one’s who officially order people to register as part of their sentence. This judge used favors as part of his stint on the bench, for basic extortion purposes.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/joseph-boeckmann-resigns_us_5730fb87e4b096e9f092583d

    1. Joyce

      In 2014-15 a retired judge in Walla Walla, Wa. was found with an extensive amount of photos on his computer. He got 4mo. in county jail, paid for his treatment, and community servive. he should have received 5 years in Federal like everyone else. So how on earth did he get special treatment under the law?

  11. Paul

    Gee, Scott Walker is signing this into law? Wow, that comes as a huge surprise. I thought he was such a high minded, progressive politician with a huge heart. Must have been my mistake.

  12. Tara

    Hey, I just have a question… I thought that with a conviction or something and you move to another state, that state has to abide by the previous state’s policies. Am I right or wrong? And then, if the originating state relinquishes one, does an opposing state not have to as well? Just a thought, that’s all.

    1. rwvnral

      No state has any obligation to abide by another state’s policies whatsoever. And states only occasionally agree to bind themselves to compact agreements enacted by Congress for the purpose of standardizing aspects of policies necessary for the fair exchange or management of concerns common to the several states. On the whole, however, states are sovereign powers with the capacity to abide by whatever they choose so long as it doesn’t conflict with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution or, in some other way, offend the incorporation of rights guaranteed (and interpreted to be applied) by the Fourteenth Amendment.

      1. Tara

        Okay. Thank you. That makes sense.

  13. All this is beginning to be a laugh but the sad fact is its reality compliments of police and law makers. As I’ve mentioned before their are many types of people on the registry. First how does one interpret violent? In the case of rape than that’s understandable but what about these internet scams that are cooked up by those that suppose to protect and serve. How are they serving us?
    These lawmakers just want to present a bill, get some credit for it passing and a hi five if you look at it that way.
    Would violent be having a chance encounter with an aggressive decoy? I mean really it seems that some people just lay back and just say. hey my life is ruined because I got caught using a potty mouth with a decoy. Now that’s reality?
    These poor unfortunate people that can’t live here or there because of being on the registry sounds like a discrimination thing to me.

    1. Fred

      It brings up the whole “it’s not a form of punishment” argument.

  14. Jay

    These laws have very direct intentions on how society wants sex offenders to live with the likely effect of dismembering families and ending relationships. The coat tugging policies are cyclic and even more progressive in states that have maintained weak or not so tough on crime policies throughout the last two decades, with each state upping the ante on restrictions with feel-good self righteous results, that or either short-lived or challenged on different fronts. It is egregious enough that a former offender is made to register even after being relieved in the originating state of conviction, even though a receiving state can’t perpetuate probation. Backwards as it may see more sound the offender is meant to defrock or bear the cost for such requirements.

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