Modern day sex offender legislation was first implemented in the early 1990s in response to a number of headline-grabbing incidents. Seeking to protect families and children, federal and state legislators passed regulations aimed at tracking, monitoring, and controlling released sex offenders. A key portion of these legislative developments include state and local level residency restrictions, which prevent sex offenders from living within an established distance—usually 1000 to 2500 feet—of various places where children gather, such as schools and daycare facilities. These laws have created enormous hardship for released sex offenders as they attempt to reintegrate into society, and the effectiveness of these laws has increasingly been rejected. This Note argues for the implementation of more sensible sex offender legislation, including prioritizing individualized assessments over blanket restrictions, making an exception to allow offenders to live with family, and providing resources to help offenders comply with restrictions. Sex offender legislation based upon false assumptions should no longer be the norm, and these reforms will help balance the goals of sex offender management with the empirical data about offender reintegration.
No Place to Call Home: Rethinking Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders,
B.C.J.L. & Soc. Just.