National Institute of Justice Examines Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

June 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

No doubt, sex offenders are among the most hated a feared criminals in society, so creating laws that restrict sex offenders from living with a certain distance of schools, playgrounds, parks, day care centers, etc., have been extremely popular and garner broad support across the nation. However, in a report issued by the National Institute of Justice, such laws can have unintended consequences.

Namely, because schools, parks, and other exclusion areas are spread throughout a city or town, many of the exclusion zones overlap, in some cases, covering almost the entire city and most of the available housing. This can create real problems. When sex offenders can’t legally find a place to live, they might go underground or become homeless and lose access to employment and mental health services.

In fact, just recently, NPR ran a story that covered Miami, Florida’s sex offender restriction laws. The restriction laws cover virtually the entire city, leaving the area around one bridge available for sex offender habitation. As a result a large, homeless sex offender community has grown up around the bridge, which isn’t healthy for the sex offenders, the community, or law enforcement.

Certainly, no one wants a sex offender living next door, but as more research is done into sex offender residency restriction laws, it might be helpful to modify these laws for the benefit of the community.

What do you think? Leave a comment.


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