Sex offender restrictions ineffective

January 31, 2014

Regarding sex offender residency restrictions:

Patty Wetterling, whose son Jacob was kidnapped and never found, posted the following statement on the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center website: “Because residency restrictions have been shown to be ineffective at preventing harm to children, and may indeed actually increase the risks to kids, the JWRC does not support residency restriction laws.”

In 2009, the Broward County Florida Board of County Commissioners Sexual Offender and Sexual Predator Residence Task Force reported they had reviewed available research about the effectiveness of residence restrictions and “found no empirical evidence to indicate that these laws achieve their intended goals of preventing abuse, protecting children or reducing reoffending.”

The Minnesota DOC analyzed 224 sex offenders released from Minnesota prisons between 1990 and 2002 who were re-incarcerated for a sex offense prior to January 1, 2006.  There were only two where the offender contacted a juvenile victim at a park, and both offenders lived more than 10 miles away. They concluded that not one of the offenses would have been affected by any residency restriction.

In 2007, the Kansas Sex Offender Policy Board reported to the legislature: “Although resident restrictions appear to have strong public support, the Board found no evidence to support its efficacy.  Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz stated:  “Residence restrictions don’t contribute to public safety.  “In fact, the consensus of experts in the field of sex offender management supported by available research and experience indicates they do just the opposite.  “Right now, it appeares that the best alternatives are in the form of community wide education and training regarding steps that can be taken to educate parents . . .”

The California Sex Offender Management Board reported that 90% of people convicted of a sex crime have not been convicted of any sex crime before.  The University at Albany [New York] School of Criminal Justice reviewed sex crime arrest records from the period 1984 through 2004 and found that more than 95% of those arrested had no prior convictions for any sex crime. More than 9 of every 10 who will harm a child cannot be on any registry or regulated by your law. They feel safer though and likely won’t be as vigilant.

I know you are concerned for the welfare of Milton’s citizens, but your ignorance of the realities and facts about sex offenders and residency restrictions threatens to place them at greater risk.

Paul Smith

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