This article reports on a Minnesota study and other studies that have examined whether laws that specify residency requirements for sex offenders living in the community are effective in reducing sex-offender recidivism.
The Minnesota study, along with other studies reviewed, suggest that residency restrictions for sex offenders have, at best, only a marginal effect on sexual reoffending. Recent research has determined that a lack of stable, permanent housing increases the likelihood that sex offenders will reoffend and abscond from community-based correctional supervision. By making it more difficult for sex offenders to find suitable housing and successfully reintegrate into the community, residency restrictions may have the unintended effect of compromising public safety by fostering conditions that increase the risk of sex offenders' reoffending. The Minnesota study found that none of the 224 sex offenses analyzed would likely have been deterred by a residency restriction law. For the Minnesota study, researchers examined 224 sex offenders released from prison between 1990 and 2002 who had been reincarcerated for a new offense before 2006, in order to determine the effects that a statewide law might have had on sexual recidivism in the State. The study examined the geographical relationship between the offender's residence, the location where the offender first established contact with the victim, and the location where the offender committed the offense. Other considerations were whether the offender was under supervision at the time of the offense, the victim's relationship with the offender, whether the offender used force and the kind of force used, and whether the victim or offender used alcohol or drugs. Four criteria were used to determine whether the 224 cases might have been affected by residency restrictions. 1 figure, 1 table, 3 notes, and 13 references