Residency Restriction Laws My intent personally is to make it so onerous on those that are convicted of these offenses they will want to move to another state. But their right to establish and maintain homes in which they can live with their families is also threatened by a growing number of state and municipal laws that expressly forbid them from living near places where children gather.
At least 20 states have enacted laws that prohibit certain sex offenders from living within a specified distance of schools, daycare centers, parks, and other places where children congregate for a list of residency restriction statutes by state, see Appendix. In addition, hundreds of municipalities in states with and without residency restriction statutes have also passed similar ordinances prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within specified distances of places where children congregate.
The least restrictive distance requirement is in Illinois feet , but most common are 1, to 2,foot boundaries. The number of residency restrictions in the US continues to grow, in part because of the horrific abduction, rape, and murder of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford in In alone, at least 10 states and a number of municipalities adopted or enhanced laws restricting where sex offenders could live.
The inability of convicted sex offenders to find housing when they are released from prison has become a significant barrier to their successful reintegration into society. This is particularly problematic for registrants who have limited resources, or for those who because of work, community, or family obligations want to live in particular locations. Residency restrictions prevent offenders from living in the areas closest to jobs and public transit, since schools, daycare centers, and parks are often built in the center of main residential areas of cities and towns.
Registrants and their family members have found that in some cities there is literally nowhere they are allowed to live. My husband and I wanted him to come live with us for awhile, while he got adjusted to life on the outside and got on his feet. He was not allowed to do so because we live within 1, ft. So he had to go to a different county, where he had no support system. He was placed in a dirty disgusting motel because it was the only place he could find to live.
It was next door to a XXX nudie place. He had to be in his motel room from 6pm until 7am daily. He could not attend church services and church support groups due to this time constraint. He was very lonely and depressed. The motel was very expensive and between that and paying for probation and counseling, he was finding himself further and further in the hole financially. He eventually started drinking again and violated parole by staying out too late.
No one helps sex offenders I was told. I was locked up, March I was given a year sentence for failure to register as a sex offender. Six registrants stayed in prisons during July hurricanes. Indeed, the experience of several states suggests the laws are counterproductive as well as unnecessary and profoundly unjust.
Iowa We made a mistake. The only exception to the law is that offenders do not have to move from their residences if they had been living there before the law was enacted. After the residency restriction went into effect in , moved, 74 have been charged with violating the ordinance, and others disappeared. None of that is considered. I thought I could help take care of her. There was nowhere I could live legally in the county that I could afford.
So I had to leave my grandma. I decided to go live in Nebraska, because there were no residency restrictions. In effect, sex offenders who have committed crimes against children are zoned out of Des Moines. All sex offenders required to register must provide a home address, but because of the residency law, some sex offenders do not have a home.
Law enforcement officials in Des Moines have resolved this conundrum by allowing individuals to register as homeless, as long as they specify a location. Under Iowa law at the time, Gavin was required to register as a sex offender, but would not be subject to community notification. In , Gavin successfully completed the terms of his probation. Gavin was also added to the public registry, pursuant to a provision of the residency restriction law that required all persons subject to those restrictions to be on the public registry.
Gavin could not find a place to live in Dubuque that was affordable and in compliance with the residency restrictions. He decided to move across the border to Wisconsin, to live in the basement of a friend, where he has lived for over a year. Because the residency restriction law only prohibits Gavin from sleeping in his home, not from visiting there, Gavin spends as much time there as possible.
On the weekends I stay there as long as I can keep my eyes open. I just want to be with my kids as long as possible. I at least always wait to leave until they have gone to bed, and I try to leave Wisconsin to get back home to them before the kids wake up. He thinks there is something wrong with me. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night, and he asks for me, and my wife has to tell him I am not there. But because of this law, I may never live with my family again.
Recently, Oklahoma City law enforcement officials reported that since a state residency restriction law went into effect, banning offenders from living within 2, feet of a school or daycare, less than 16 percent of the Oklahoma City area is available for sex offenders to live, and most of that consists of land surrounding industrial areas that does not have residential housing.
As of , nearly offenders have dropped off the state registry. Jim Lewis, who runs a number of faith-based community programs, John A. He was accepted and he left the United States in August The residency restriction law forced him to leave his home and he moved to a trailer in a wooded area outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I feel like there is no other place I can go except here. But here I am isolated. What if I fall down and break my hip?
I will admit that at first I considered not registering, going underground. But I wanted to do the right thing, whatever that is in this situation, and so I am trying to abide by the law.
We are certainly going to lose track of the sexually violent offenders. In August it released a study on the impact of residency restrictions in other states that have them. Local Ordinances An estimated municipalities have enacted local zoning ordinances restricting where sex offenders can live within their boundaries. For registered offenders, the main impact of the laws may be simply to drive them underground or to uproot them from their families and communities.
But this assumption is not borne out by research. The Colorado Department of Public Safety found that convicted child molesters in Colorado who reoffended while on probation were randomly scattered throughout the geographical area, and did not seem to live closer than non-recidivists to schools or child care centers. In fact it found the opposite: As evident in the experience of Iowa and Oklahoma, residency restrictions can push former offenders into homelessness and transience, interfering with effective tracking, monitoring, and close probationary supervision.
A survey of sex offenders in Florida revealed that housing restrictions increased isolation, created financial and emotional stress, and led to decreased stability. So I moved to the edge of town. The kids cry when I leave at night, and my wife worries sick that I have to stay away at night. This restriction only makes us more stressed.
I think if I could just fall asleep next to my wife, with my kids in the house, everything would work out okay. This does not mean that limitations cannot be placed on where former offenders may live.
Residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders should be determined on a case-by-case basis, for example by courts or probation and parole officers, and be subject to periodic review. The restrictions should be reasonably tailored to such factors as the specific crime the offender committed; an assessment of his or her employment, family and other support systems; the nature of supervision and treatment the offender is receiving; and the length of time the individual has lived in the community offense-free.
For former offenders who are not subject to probation or parole supervision, states could create expert panels to undertake similar periodically reviewed assessments to determine whether any type of residency restriction is warranted for a particular individual and for how long.
Other Countries and Sex Offender Laws The United States is one of just eight countries that have sex offender registries, and the only country besides South Korea known to have community notification provisions. Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom have sex offender registries that are kept by the police. Singapore is also considering a system of sex offender registration and community notification modeled on the US as well.
Several other cities in Florida have followed. That leaves few islands where they can live, and because they are not allowed to travel through the other areas, they are effectively banned from the city. Will any Make Us Safer?
PetersburgTimes, June 30, This increases the area where offenders are banned. Zandbergen and Timothy C. The court noted that Seering was ejected from the farm property. Petersburg Times, June 16,