The Problem with Sex-Offender Residency Restrictions

Authorities say that sex-offender residency restrictions are necessary to protect children from sex offenders, but numerous studies have shown that these restrictions have done nothing of the sort. For example, state authorities in Colorado and Minnesota found in 2003 and 2004, respectively, that there was no correlation between repeat sex offenses against children and where sex offenders lived. A subsequent study by authorities in Iowa found exactly the same thing. (Blood, et al., State Legislation, Monitoring Report: FY 2007 (2008)).

Florida`s Sex-Offender Residency Restrictions are Ineffective

Florida has been the focus of numerous, peer-reviewed studies by experts on whether sex-offender residency restrictions are effective — with all of the studies coming to the same conclusion: sex-offender residency restrictions have absolutely no effect on sex crimes against children.

For example, in 2010 a group of experts examined whether Florida`s 1,000-foot rule, and even its 2,500-foot rule for some sex offenders, prevented sex crimes against children. Unsurprisingly, they found that Florida`s residency restrictions didn`t have any impact on the rate of re-offense against children by a sex offender. (Zandbergen, et al., Residential Proximity to Schools and Daycares: An Empirical Analysis of Sex Offense Recidivism, Criminal Justice and Behavior (2010)).

In another example out of Florida, a group of experts examined whether Jacksonville`s 1,000-foot rule (and 2,500-foot rule) reduced sex offenses against children. The experts looked at several different issues to see whether the law had any effect in preventing sex crimes against children. It came to the same conclusion for every issue it researched: Florida`s residency restrictions for sex offenders had no effect on the rate of sex offenses against children. In other words, it didn`t matter where the offender lived, and there wasn`t a difference in the rate of sex offenses against children in these areas. (Nobles, et al., Effectiveness of Residence Restrictions in Preventing Sex Offense Recidivism, Crime & Delinquency (2012)).

Sex-Offender Residency Restrictions Remain Popular with the Public

Despite no evidence that sex-offender residency restrictions work, and the convincing evidence that they can lead to even more sex-offender recidivism (more on that another day), the public continues to overwhelmingly support these laws. Take a look at Florida, again. Experts found that almost 82% of the residents there supported the use of sex-offender residency restrictions. (Levenson, et al., Social Policies Designed to Prevent Sexual Violence: The Emperor`s New Clothes? Criminal Justice Policy Review (2007)). Experts have also found the same vast support by the public for sex-offender residency restrictions in other states.


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