Coast to Coast, Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Waste Money, Create Havoc

By Sandy . . . If every shred of evidence showed that traffic lights, while costing large amounts of resources to install, did nothing to decrease auto accidents and actually created a host of undesirable consequences, would cities still install them at every major intersection?

This is exactly what happens with the creation of what are euphemistically called “child safety zones.”

The emergence of sex-offender registration and notification laws in the mid-1990s created awareness of convicted sexual offenders living throughout communities and neighborhoods. This led to the notion that restricting these individuals from living (and often from just being) within close proximity to areas where children congregate would help prevent the sexual victimization of children. Today, 35 states have statewide residency restrictions, and many of the others allow individual jurisdictions to establish them.

This ignores the most basic fact about child molestation, a fact that has long been known but largely ignored: Children are not sexually abused by strangers lurking in parks and school playgrounds. Virtually all molestation of children is committed by those in the children’s lives in trusted positions, the majority in private residences.

The clamor for residency restrictions

Every month, new communities demand the creation of these “protected” areas for children. These are prominent headlines from the past few months.

In New York: “Cuomo seeks 1000-foot boundary for sex offenders around schools”;

In Maine: “Lawmakers seek to close loophole on residency restrictions for registered sex offenders”;

In Florida: “Possible ordinance would limit where sex offenders can live”; and

In California: “Vidak authors measure to limit where sex offenders can live”

Research shows these laws to be ineffective

The first research study done (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2007), showed that residency restrictions would not have prevented any re-offenses.

Since then, numerous studies — academic, private, and governmental — have been done. Not one has shown a different result.

California is one of the more prominent states for establishing these restrictions. Yet their own Sex Offender Management Board makes this statement: “There is no research which supports the use of these strategies [residency and proximity restrictions], there is substantial research showing that such policies have no effect on preventing recidivism, and there is a growing body of research which indicates that residence restrictions actually increase sex offender recidivism [for violations and petty crime, not for re-offense] and decrease community safety.”

An academic study published in Sage Journals (2002) by experts in the field concludes: “… the residence restriction policy was not associated with a meaningful change in sex crime arrests or sex offender recidivism after the policy implementation date, suggesting that the residence restriction did not achieve its intended goal of reducing recidivism.”

Likewise, a comprehensive Department of Justice study, published in July 2015, states, “[T]he evidence is fairly clear that residence restrictions are not effective. In fact, the research suggests that residence restrictions may actually increase offender risk by undermining offender stability and the ability of the offender to obtain housing, work, and family support. There is nothing to suggest this policy should be used at this time.”

And finally, Kansas Department of Corrections officials are so strongly opposed to sex offender residency restrictions that they devote a full page on their website to enumerating and explaining 20 reasons why.

Problems, problems, problems

Aside from wasting resources on policy that does not even address the problem it is intended to solve and creating conditions that interfere with offender stability and rehabilitation, new problems have emerged.

Read the remainder of the article at Criminal Legal News

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

Viewing 11 reply threads
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    • #40700 Reply

      Something to argue is that there are people who had “sex offense” convictions PRIOR to Megan’s Law (regardless of what the offense was, that doesn’t matter) who were living peacefully in their communities OFFENSE FREE and carrying on with their lives. The suddenly, Megan’s Law somehow went retroactive and made people with offenses from decades ago show up on the registry and when this happened…what did their “friendly” neighbors do? And did anyone ever stop to think that the person who suddenly popped up as a sex offender for an offense from 1980 has been living next door to them all these years with no issues?

      No. Because that would require the people of our society to use their brains and THINK. And that could cause hemorrhaging, I guess.

      • #40739 Reply
        Facts should matter

        Also, what about those that just “offended” once and are now on the registry. What about all those years before their conviction that never offended to begin with? Now I’m not talking about “operating in secrecy” or yet to be caught because they were undetected. I’m talking about those that are non-deviant and just had an error in judgment that subsequently landed them on the registry.

        They lived an offense-free life PRIOR to a conviction which proves and fully illustrates the absurdity of Megan’s Law and how it’s void of merit and a feckless “tool” for recidivism and prevention.

    • #40695 Reply

      The writer asserts numerous studies and excellent arguments against residency restrictions. To which a lawmakers consistently and universally respond: “Please don’t confuse us with facts!”

    • #40691 Reply

      Exactly, the truth be told. Abolish registry and fictitious child safety zones.

    • #40705 Reply

      Great piece Sandy. I believe the residency and proximity restrictions will be the first thing to go in our battle with the registry. It is also my belief that once the restrictions are removed and we can live anywhere we want the general population will be more inclined to side with a shorter time on the registry or making it law enforcement only since rc’s will be in about every community. Since we can no longer be removed from the communities the next best thing in their eyes is reintegration so they dont have those “toxic waste sites” in their backyards devaluing their homes!

    • #40722 Reply

      The sad fact remains even without the restrictions if your renting a house or apartment the public register will still publish the address. Lots of time home owners or property management look upon this as negative. Even without restrictions finding a person to rent from will continue to be an issue.

    • #40721 Reply
      Restore Article VIII

      This really hits home with me right now. Once my spouse registered he received a letter stating he had ten days to get out of the home we had built and have lived in for nearly 20 years. I thought we were safe because of a state supreme court case that stated if you lived in your house prior to the law (2006) then it did not apply (on Missouri State Highway Patrol offender page). However, there was a later court case (not listed on the page) that said the county can decide. Our county said he had to move (non contact non violent offenses). We are living apart as we have one more child in high school who has attended that district since kindergarten. Is my spouse a danger? No, and I struggle with how someone can be punished for what the government thinks they “might” do. Things are still rough for us right now (financially, emotionally, legally), but I plan to help promote change once we get in a better place. I am grateful to NARSOL and all those who are fighting the fight for us.

    • #40730 Reply
      Tom H

      Ok, ok. We know, as nausium, the terrible things being don’t to sex offenders. NARSOL publishes blog after blog of sex offender hate. It’s very depression. I wish NAROL would spend less time highlighting how much society hates us and focus that energy of ways we can end this sprew of unconstitutional legislative behavior.

      • #40738 Reply

        NARSOL will post any articles we feel our community should know about. I mean how are people supposed to know how absurd these laws are if we don’t help keep them informed? At the same time we are very busy and focused on bringing change to these laws on constitutional grounds.

        I recommend you look into getting involved with NARSOL and learn what is really going on behind the scenes, before you assume that all we do is post blog articles that depress you. Then consider attending our conference in Ohio on June 8 through 10 to learn about a wide range of topics, including how to be an awesome advocate for change where you are actually doing something instead of just reading depressing blog posts.

        Finally if you really don’t like the way NARSOL does things, you can apply for a position on the Board of Directors and show us how it’s done. Getting active in our cause can be a very rewarding and uplifting experience.

    • #40743 Reply

      In reading an article in the New York Times this evening, I came across an article that featured an early decision from Justice Kennedy when he was still on the bench from the 9th Circuit. His writing in one sentence from Spain v. Procunier, 600 F. 2d 189 – Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1979 caught my eye:

      “Underlying the Eighth Amendment is a fundamental premise that prisoners are not to be treated as less than human beings.”

      Spain V. Procunier was about the treatment of prisoners when incarcerated within the Department of Justice but, isn’t the plight of our fellow citizens in every state controlled by law? We cannot escape the requirement (and penalty) of Residency Restrictions any more than a prisoner can just walk out of his/her prison cell to get a little fresh air.

      We may not be prisoners in the literal since but we are still not permitted to join the rest of the free society to live work and play, just like a prisoner is not allowed out of the prison compound.

      When SCOTUS gave the decision in Packingham, it refereed to Facebook as the new “Town Square”. Therefore (in the same line of thinking) we are still prisoners even though we are not behind bars. This decision must be determined by a judge in a court of course, but when you plead your case you must persuade the court that your argument is lawful. You “move” the court for any decision you would like it to have in your favor. The information contained in Spain v. Procunier given by Justice Kennedy in 1979 can be used to “move” the court to show how this case law notes that we should “…not to be treated less than human beings.”

      We also find the use of the same above verbiage in Graves v. Arpaio, 48 F. Supp. 3d 1318 – Dist. Court, D. Arizona 2014 under the section titled: D. Eighth Amendment Standard for Medical and Mental Health Care. The paragraph states that “…Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, and medical care and take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.”

      Again, we are technically not inmates/prisoners but yet we are treated as such. Should be not be afforded the same that the case law mentioned gives those who are behind bars. I see no difference between us and them.

      • #40820 Reply

        To bad even though they ruled that facebook was the new town square and violated rights not to be able to use it. Facebook has it under their community guide lines that No Sex Offender will be able to use facebook. I know I have had 3 accounts disabled even the one I had many years before I was S.O. I lost pictures of my kids military photos family photos of members that had passed. I asked them for access to my acct to retrieve these memories and their response was see section blah blah blah of the community standards. So in my opinion it does not matter what rulings are in our favor there will all be loop holes or ways to go around the system or just plain old thats not my interpretation of the rule or law.

        • #40824 Reply

          There’s really no way for the average user to contact FB. You’d have to get an attorney to do it.
          They refuse to answer. They’ll just keep telling you to read their TOS.

    • #40744 Reply
      Roberto Cruz

      Mr. Fred Admin Sir, great suggestions. I have been wanting to participate and contribute/make a difference with this cause for sometime.

      I do would like to know however, considering your eleemosynary invitation, if you or NARSOL offer any low cost or no-cost transportation (car, bus, plane, boat–public or private) to and from Ohio June 8th through the 10th and/or any other agreed upon locations of learning on the wide range of topics you speak of. As in my believe you already know, many of us on a Sex Offender Registry are economically distraught and/or homeless so, any help getting me there would be greatly appreciated. I want to be there!

      Also Sir, how can you assure me/us RSO’s from different locations under so many different laws and requirements, safe passage to any and all locations of learning about the topics affecting RSO’s and the ways to do more (even if already doing so)? As in my believe you already know, many of us on a Sex Offender Registry can not leave the Country, our States, our Counties, our Towns (as probation may dictate) so, getting on a public bus where children or possible adult victims “congregate” may be problematic and even unlawful. But, I want to be there!

      One more thing I need to ask, how would RSO’s be able to not break the law and be held in a violation across States? Will there be any low cost or no cost legal help offered by NARSOL? As in my believe you already know, crossing into some States even if not to reside and just visiting/driving/walking by you are legally demanded to register. I know all battles have risks. Some more unnecessary than others, but I still want to be there!

      Oh, and while we are in the subject of wide range of topics, has NARSOL considered a 30 to 60 seconds (or more) commercial on national T.V. to introduce themselves and what they advocate for & why (instead of just word of mouth, etc.) with a personable spokesperson that can deliver a message to all cultures? I know Superbowl is over, but I would surely donate to see NARSOL purchase one of their million dollars’ commercial spots. Then again, NARSOL does not need to wait until Superbowl to get commercial spots on current Prime T.V. channels or Prime radio or Prime newspapers journalists which, could be cheaper too!

      Thank you NARSOL and its human volunteers for well,… Volunteering their time to the above cause!

      • #40751 Reply

        Hi Roberto Cruz! Thank you so much for asking. 😀

        We will help connect attendees from the same state, so they can share a ride and travel expenses, and sometimes we can find roommates to share the cost of a room. If you are interested in that, send us an email at the contact us link on the bottom of the page.

        If on probation, you are responsible for notifying your probation officer and obtaining permission. For the duration of the conference, no reporting requirements will be triggered in Ohio.

        If you would like more information about the conference, you can find it here or you can contact us at the link previously mentioned.

        Have a nice day!! 😀

    • #40745 Reply

      Restrictions for employment are also another form of punishment. In today’s world of overbuilding, there are churches, schools, daycares or parks everywhere. Trying to find a place to live or work that is within the boundaries is almost impossible. We have a friend who wants my son to do some work for them. He can’t because their home is 75 feet too close to a heavily wooded section of a walking path. These restrictions lump all SO into 1 group. Even those with non- contact offenses are viewed as much of a threat as someone who repeatedly does physical harm.

      We need to focus on voting in people who will look at real facts & not rely on outdated, ill researched data. Pay close attention to your races for judges, DAs & other local elections. If we can start with changes in the way people are treated on the local/state level, then we can use that to show lawmakers that the thing they fear is not what they thought.

    • #40741 Reply

      I sort of have to agree with him about this nausium thing whatever that is, but for me and for anyone on here one has to go with the punches. One of the reason’s NARSOL presents these articles is helping all with these informative matters , and yes we can all help others out to try and help anyway we can. Sure I’ve sometimes got burn out on NARSOL and even my sister told me to stay away from it.

      Believe it or not we all have to take the good. bad. and the ugly in this world today and when one can’t spit on the sidewalk without some griping about it or it comes to a day when we are forced to wear a sign on our backs I am a sex offender for easy notification ,than we all need to speak up. We can all take good and bad comments but channeling it is a whole different subject.

      Sure I get depressed at times how they treat all these children on here, even the adult children on here. Hurting someone is bad but remember we are all children. Sure I hate to see anyone on the streets. Sure I’ve did it once or twice in my early life as I wanted the experience. But when a home is off limits to you and your family and authorities tell you to pack your bags and move out or a viglainte group come and spray paint your house than it is a waste of money.

      One seems to be able to live, either live in a green light district or a red light district. Just because one is a sex offender is no cause to be alarmed as a lot of people assume. Sure I’ve got many articles I have wrote on this topic as it is a big topic in more ways than one. Being on the registry is not everyone’s ambition in life but someone’s got to lead the charge and NARSOL and others are doing a pretty good job but its up to one’s like us and our daily trials to comment and give some feedback or comment if that is one’s choice. Even my buddy maestro gives his feedback and Maestro’s a connecticut yankee in king arther’s court give me a break.

      These restrictions are a waste of money and yes it might be a bit unconfortable for all but life goes on. Myself, I have to look at this sex registry as an opportunity as one can always take a negative opportunity and turn it into a positive one if one seeks to understand all this.

    • #40760 Reply
      Bob Bichan

      This anonymous commenting this is really nice in that we needn’t register a username (internet identifier) to comment on these articles, but can I suggest you also add the required code to allow Disqus comments on your site?
      (I don’t have a dog in the Disqus race, I’m just a loyal user)

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