Boulder, CO city staff: “Housing restrictions not the answer”

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UPDATE 11/15: Boulder City Council Tuesday night (11/14) voted not to implement housing restrictions for those on the registry:   http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_31455117/boulder-city-council-decides-not-restrict-housing-options

By Alex Burness . . . Boulder’s City Council should not adopt any laws limiting housing options for “sexually violent predators,” and should instead form a working group and try to improve inter-governmental cooperation on the issue, city staff recommends.

This summer, amid community tension over multiple “predators” moving into Boulder’s homeless shelter, the City Council requested more information on ways it could better monitor and manage this population — including by a possible ban on renting or buying housing within a certain radius of community gathering places, such as playgrounds and schools.

Sex offenders are given the additional “predator” label if they are convicted of certain sex crimes, including sexual assault and sexual assault of a child from a position of trust, and then deemed by officials to have personality traits that make them a greater risk to reoffend.

There are currently three “predators” living at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. A fourth, Christopher Lawyer, who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a newspaper carrier, was at the shelter but recently reregistered in California.

All three have been discharged from parole and are no longer under state supervision, which means that a couple of the council’s previously brainstormed ideas for increased monitoring, including making them wear GPS ankle bracelets and sending them to a halfway house, are not feasible.

It is still possible for Boulder to exclude the “predators” from living in certain areas, but city staff has looked into this and agreed it’s a bad idea.

Studies have repeatedly shown that limiting housing options for sex offenders and those deemed “sexually violent predators” does not improve public safety and may in fact increase the likelihood of recidivism.

Such laws can effectively zone certain individuals out of contention for local housing. One Florida study found that, of nearly a million housing units studied, only 4 percent complied with state and local restrictions.

A memo from city staff to the council stated that, “The significance of the impact of housing restrictions is the lack of housing availability leads to transience, homelessness and reduced employment opportunities. Housing instability is associated with increased rates of recidivism.”

For that reason, authorities on the issue, including the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board, advise communities not restrict where sex offenders can and cannot live. Even so, several communities in the state have implemented restrictions.

Read the remainder of the article here.

 

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