Letter to the Editor- In response to “Repealing restrictions on sex offender living limitations is dangerous for children”

In Letters to the Editor, Opinion

That article was surprising, in that it ignored the empirical data and advocated for harmful social policy.

The facts:

The United States of America is only the country on earth with residency restrictions for sex offenders. They are truly abnormal based on international standards.

The evidence indicates that, besides the catastrophic social harm (i.e. homelessness), these actually increase recidivism; that is why no other country does this. See University of Michigan law professor JJ Prescott’s study “Do Sex Offender Registries Make Us Less Safe?” The Florida experience was looked at specifically by Jill Levenson, an associate professor of social work at Barry University in Miami, Fla., who found significantly higher recidivism in Florida compared with states that have less draconian registries.

Public registries and residency restrictions do this as they cause homelessness, unemployment and social isolation and divert law enforcement from things that work. In addition, as JJ Prescott points out, it doesn’t even make sense that they would work as they are based on inherently flawed assumptions.

There really is no debate about this–among experts it is settled science with as much debate as whether or not the world is round. States like Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, are states with residency restrictions, which have created a homelessness crisis. This is because they prevent ex-offenders from living with friends or family.

It also makes people abscond. This is not theoretical: after residency restrictions came in in Oklahoma hundreds of registrants vanished into thin air. Whereas in Canada less than 3 percent of offenders fail to re-register on the private police-only registry.

In addition, due to aggressive statutory rape prosecutions in close-in-age consensual cases in the U.S. (something that no other Western country does), a shocking number of the people subject to this are Romeo-and-Juliet offenders, including California where the age of consent is 18 and there is no close-in-age exemption and if there is more than three years age gap that can trigger registration.

The result: a 17-year-old girlfriend and her 20-year-old boyfriend with a June and a May birthday equals registration, or if the author of the opinion piece had her way, life on the streets.

Terry Evans

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  • ShellyStow

    Thank you for your voice of reason and facts. The taboo subject of s3x has combined with willful ignorance of empirical evidence to create the perfect storm of disaster for anyone accused of anything that can have the word ‘s3x’ put into the charge — and even some that don’t.