Nineteen states and hundreds, if not thousands, of local communities have adopted statutes which severely limit the places where a sex offender may legally live. In this article, the author traces new laws to historical practices of banishment in Western societies. He argues that the establishment of exclusion zones by states and localities is a form of banishment creating unique legal, policy, and ethical problems for America. He contends that residency restrictions could fundamentally alter basic principles of the American criminal justice system and while those supporting these laws have the interests of children at heart, the policies they are promoting will be worse for children and society.
This case has been filed on behalf of four parolees, from different counties (San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Diego), who face parole violations if they do not change their residences as required by the enforcement of Penal Code Section 3003.5, better known as "Jessica’s Law" or Proposition 83. While passed in November 2006, the recent enforcement prohibited residency by any person required to register as a sex offender within 2000 feet of any public or private school, park or other place so designated by a municipality. The Writ of Habeas Corpus challenges the constitutionality of this statute in a number of ways, including its retroactivity, the applicability of the statute to these type of offenders, due process issues, and the unreasonableness of the parole condition. The Amicus Brief filed jointly by CCOSO and ATSA supports the argument concerning the unreasonableness of this parole requirement. The brief outlines how enforcement of residency restrictions such as this are not reasonably related to the government’s goals of enhancing public safety, reintegrating the paroled offender into society and promoting positive citizenship. The authors argue that such restrictions are detrimental to public safety by increasing the risk factors for recidivism and therefore are not reasonably related to the deterrence of future criminality. Specifically, amici provides data showing that residence restrictions hinder the governmental goals and are in fact counterproductive, creating an atmosphere that is harmful to children and other potential victims, rather than beneficial to them.
An Amicus (“Friend of the Court”) brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court (in Doe v Miller, 2005) by ATSA (The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) arguing that sex offender residency restriction laws are generally counter-productive to protecting children from sexual abuse.
30 slides that formed the basis for a presentation by a Human Rights Watch attorney to the 2005 International Research and Treatment Conference of The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). Discusses how children’s rights delineated in international agreements may conflict with delineated rights of adults to enjoys privacy, employment, family integrity, freedom of movement, etc.
This study investigated unintended consequences of policies that restrict where sex offenders can live. Results indicted decreased housing availability, increased homelessness and transience, and financial hardship. Residence restrictions forced registrants to live farther away from employment opportunities, treatment services, and public transportation. Younger registrants were particularly impacted. Low risk and high risk registrants were equally affected. Implications of these and other findings are discussed, including potential for these laws to create psychosocial stressors that increase rather than lower recidivism, and potential to interfere with effective monitoring and supervision of sex offenders. Alternative community protection strategies are recommended.
A report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Domestic Violence and Sex Offender Management examining safety issues raised by sex offenders’ community living arrangements with particular focus on: (1) Do the living arrangements of sex offenders, including shared living arrangements, have an impact on community safety? (2) Do the location of sex offender residences, specifically in proximity to schools and childcare centers, have an impact on community safety? Concluded that reoffense rates were significantly lower for men in shared living arrangements and that family and community support were important factors contributing to lowered recidivism. Found no evidence that restricting offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, etc. made a positive contribution to lowered recidivism. In fact, the opposite may be true insofar as such restrictions may deprive offenders of the supportive shared living arrangements that do in fact contribute to lowered recidivism.
This Essay addresses how such subnational efforts at social control undermine American constitutional collectivism. Part II provides an overview of the current wave of residence exclusion laws, examining the broad range of constraints the laws impose on individuals. The discussion then situates the laws in the context of other governmental strategies to use geographic limits to achieve social control goals. Part III examines the state and federal judicial decisions that have thus far addressed residence exclusion laws. Part IV discusses how residence exclusion laws defy the collectivist traditions on which the nation was founded and threaten the destructive interstate discord the federal union was designed to avoid.
Eliminate Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders (2007) Jeffrey T. Walker This article addresses a particular type of sex offender law: residency restrictions. It examines the research that shows problems with residency restrictions. It discusses efforts to repeal sex offender residency restrictions and the rationale behind doing so. It ends with a call to modify residency restriction laws and to create more effective ways of controlling sexual reoffending.
A Summary of facts and plaintiff’s expert testimony in an Ohio case where-in an offender argues against Ohio’s residency restrictions on the basis that they are unrelated to established risk factors and therefore unrelated to recidivism prevention. Plaintiff’s expert also states that the restrictions may actually contribute to increased recidivism because they negatively impact known protective factors like stable living arrangements and family support.
This 2009 study investigated the relationship between sex offenders’ failure to register (FTR) and recidivism, their similarity of risk factors with compliant registrants, as well as predictive factors of FTR. Based on a sample of 2,970 offenders from the South Carolina registry records, and from both the SC adult and juvenile criminal records, the findings do not support the premise that FTRs are more likely to reoffend than compliant sex offenders (2% differential). Public safety would be better served if funds were invested in determining other risk factors for sexual reoffenses.
This 2009 report to the Board of Commissioners of Broward County Florida, reviewed available research about the effectiveness of residence restrictions and found no empirical evidence to indicate that these laws achieve their intended goals of preventing abuse, protecting children, or reducing reoffending.
Complete text of a complaint seeking relief for Georgia sex offenders adversely affected by a law prohibiting registrants from residing within 1000 feet of school bus stops. Complete text of the court’s decision, including certifying affected individuals as a class qualified to seek injunctive relief and granting temporary relief pending further hearings.
Georgia Supreme Court Presiding Justice Carol Hunsteint, speaking for the majority, ruled the Georgia sex offender Residency restriction unconstitutional." It is apparent that there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being ejected."
This 2006 literature review summarizing the impacts of residency restrictions on sex offenders and on correctional management processes was prepared at the request of Mark Leno, then chair of the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee. It discusses Sex Offender Registration, Community Notification, Civil Commitment, Residency Restrictions, Risk Assessment, GPS Monitoring, and Constitutional Issues and compares laws and practices in Iowa, Texas, Colorado and California.
This is the CA Supreme Court decision finding that the residency restriction of Jessica's Law applying to prisoners prosecuted before but paroled after passage of Jessica's Law IS CONSTITUTIONAL " The majority concludes that enforcing this 2,000-foot residency restriction against petitioners as a parole condition does not constitute an impermissible retroactive application of the law nor violate their right to be free of an ex post facto application of the law."
This is a lengthy document written for the Social Science Research Working Paper Series. It provides in depth analysis of the legal arguments surrounding sex offender residency restrictions and proposes an innovative “positive” zoning scheme, the Sex Offender Containment Zone, that zones high-risk convicted sex offenders back into the city and that is effective, humane, and constitutional.
The goal of this three part article is to “promote a cogent dialogue regarding the upper bounds of their effectiveness and constitutionality in order to provide a framework for future legislation" Part I examines existing and potential constitutional challenges to various state residency laws. Part II discusses the policy concerns and considerations of creating or expanding sex offender residency laws. Part III examines the political causes and ramifications of the residency laws and explains the need for a Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutional limit of residency laws.
This 2003 report to the Minn. Legislature by the state’s Dept. of Corrections regarding community placement of high-risk sex offenders discusses a number of issues, including housing these men. It concludes (among other things) that residential proximity to potential (child) victims is unrelated to recidivism risk and that imposing such restrictions unnecessarily complicates the work of corrections staff attempting to reintegrate these men into communities. It recommends against imposing such restrictions.
This document is a series of maps for the state and selected cities showing the 2000 foot buffer zones created by Proposition 83.
This article looks at: 1) Why sex offenders are subject to sanctions and prohibitions above and beyond what other criminal offenders must face, 2) some of the residence and employment restrictions placed on sex offenders (along with charts comparing states) to determine if they are rationally related to any legitimate government interest without overbearing the sex offender’s constitutional rights. 3) An alternate means of sex offense prevention that encourages sex offender assimilation back into society instead of further exclusion.