By Sandy . . . A town in Nebraska, York, has been considering residency restrictions for those on the registry off and on for several years. Recently, prompted by a concerned citizen, city attorney Charles Campbell prepared an ordinance and asked the York City Council to consider it.
One of NARSOL’S writers, Mike W., wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, the city attorney, and the eight city council members. A copy of this was mailed to each of them.
Attn: Melanie Wilkinson, Managing Editor, the Independent
Attorney Charles Campbell
York City Council
Citizens everywhere have a right to safety, and this is true wherever they are, be it in their homes, on their street, in their schools, in their places of worship, and in their towns. We want to be safe. We deserve to be safe.
In the article City considering residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders (York, Nebraska), Attorney Charles Campbell explained that the city is considering how close a registered citizen can live from a school or childcare facility. The implication is that a registrant’s residence, if far enough removed from a school or childcare, somehow confers safety while one in close proximity to the same facility is a threat to safety.
What we know now is that residency restrictions do not result in higher safety. Residency restrictions are ineffective and have unintended consequences. This approach has been adopted before in the errant belief that people who have a geographical closeness have a higher level of offense. That is not accurate. What we do know is
- “Stranger Danger” is rare. Most offenders are coaches, family friends, clergy, or family members.
- Approximately 60% of offences take place in the victim’s home or the home of someone they know.
- There is no evidence that residency restrictions result in reduced offenses. In fact, these restrictions create barriers to integration into the community.
- Georgia, New Jersey, California and most recently Michigan have all had residency restrictions overturned or sharply curtailed in court cases ruling them as unconstitutional and punitive.
People on the registry have lower rates of recidivism. At an average of a 4% rate, it is the lowest of any class of offence. Contrast this to DUI recidivism rates of 25-31%. Should those who have DUIs in their past move 500 feet from any place that sells alcohol? Of course not. Access does not equate with future crimes.
It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure a safe community. Restricting housing access will remove citizens from their established homes, break up families, and create financial hardship. Ostracizing past offenders is not a solution. A better policy would be to make available an easy transition into the community where they can participate, hold jobs, have families and pay taxes.
Mike W for NARSOL (National Assc. For Rational Sexual Offense Laws)
contact Sandy Rozek, NARSOL Communications
NARSOL advocates for laws based on facts and evidence and for policies that support the successful rehabilitation, restoration, and reintegration of law abiding, former sex offenders into society as the path to a safer society.
On July 19 the council again met and discussed the matter, including some of the points raised in our letter (although no mention of the letter is made in the newspaper article). One of the council members moved that the issue be dropped. The motion was seconded and passed.
At least for now, York, Nebraska, will not enact restrictions limiting where its registered citizens can live.
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.
Mike W publishes articles and writes letters to those who have circulated inaccurate information that needs correcting.