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Geographic Research Suggests Sex Offender Residency Laws May Not Work

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2009
2 pages
This article reports on geographic research that indicates sex offender residency restriction laws may not be effective in preventing sexual recidivism.
Many States have adopted residency restriction laws designed to keep sex offenders from living in proximity to public places where children congregate; however, recent geographic research from a special journal edition of "Criminal Justice Policy Review" suggests these laws may do more harm than good. Although these restrictions keep sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, and day-care facilities, they limit residence locations so severely that offenders are forced to live in places where they cannot get jobs, find acceptable housing, have access to treatment programs, or obtain the basic necessities needed for a successful reentry into the community. Research on crime-cause factors also shows that there is no relationship between sex offending and whether or not the offender lives in housing near locations where children congregate. Offenders typically select a residence they can afford and generally select victims through a child's family member or acquaintance, or victimize children in the offender's own family. In addition, offenders' stress levels increase when they are forced to live in disadvantaged communities and are denied opportunities to access treatment or gain employment. Such stress can lead to reoffending. 6 notes

Date Published: May 1, 2009