Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $465,344)
The vast majority of sex offenders will be released from prison and supervised in the community on probation. Recently, Federal and state legislation has been passed to monitor sex offenders, including legislation that restricts where sex offenders can live. Although these residency restrictions have substantial support among the public, researchers, and policymakers have begun to raise concerns over the efficacy of these laws.
The primary goal of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of sex offender residency and boundary restrictions in Michigan and Missouri. The research program will proceed in two phases. The first phase of the program will assess the fidelity of implementation of the residency restrictions. The project will collect quantitative data on the compliance by offenders and correctional personnel with sex offender laws prior to and after implementation of the residency restrictions, and, will interview correctional personnel to gain alternative measures of program fidelity. To evaluate the effect of boundary restrictions on public safety, the project will conduct a multi-state study that considers the long-term residency patterns, recidivism, and social outcomes (i.e., employment, treatment procurement) of sex offenders serving time in the community on parole or felony probation. The project will employ a quasi-experimental design that includes comparing the outcomes of the post-restrictions sex offender sample with a pre-restrictions control sample and a contemporary control sample of non-sexual offenders will be selected using propensity score matching. Cox proportional hazard models will be used to examine the recidivism models, and map offenders and residency zones using ArcView. In addition, the case files of sexual offenders will be coded to obtain additional information on the victimization event (e.g., location of the offense, and victim/offender relationship). Finally, a series of qualitative interviews will be conducted with a subsample of sexual and non-sexual offenders to better understand the consequences of residency restrictions on self-reported criminality, treatment procurement, housing outcomes, and social support networks.