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January 17, 2007

Another (ineffective?) sex offender restriction

I have not yet seen any evidence that sex offender restrictions are effective; many say, as detailed here, that they actually harm public safety.  Nevertheless, this article from my local paper details that a town in central Ohio is considering a new twist on sex offender restrictions:

Upper Arlington is proposing tough restrictions on sexual offenders that would limit not only where they can live, but also where they can work.  State law already forbids sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school.  And several cities in Franklin County, including Hilliard and Reynoldsburg, have passed or are considering additional prohibitions. But none has restrictions on where offenders may work.

"I'm not aware of an employment restriction anywhere in the state. As far as I know this is a first," said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm based in Cincinnati.

Some related posts:

UPDATE:  Over here at Sex Crimes, Corey Yung has a thoughtful and nuanced post about work restrictions for sex offenders.  He also has a lot of other interesting new posts on topics ranging from the Duke case to criminal adultry laws.

January 17, 2007 at 09:39 AM | Permalink

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At Sentencing Law Policy, Professor Berman has a post about an Ohio community considering adopting work restrictions on sex offenders. From the Columbus Dispatch:Upper Arlington is proposing tough restrictions on sexual offenders that would limit not o... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 17, 2007 10:09:52 AM

Comments

It's understandable why people want to be hard on sex offenders, but this is just getting out of hand. We need to condemn with one hand and offer rehabilitation (to those who are willing) with the other. That, seems to me, is the moral thing to do. Of course, I could understand why we wouldn't want sex offenders working with children -- but is this really something we need new legislation for? My main concern is the broad sweep of what is considered "sexual offending". We now have stories of teenagers being branded sex offenders for life b/c they post nude pictures of themselves on the internet. How harmful if that?

Posted by: Steve | Jan 17, 2007 10:35:29 AM

Sex offenders are not allowed to work at day cares. That seems to me to be a restriction on where they can work.

Posted by: John Neff | Jan 17, 2007 3:59:45 PM

If you take a map of an urban area in Iowa showing the overlapping 2000 foot radius circles centered on schools and day care facilities the result is the same as saying that a sex offender cannot live within 2000 feet of a fire hydrant. The sex offenders have been forced to either
go underground or to live in a rural area.

An owner of a rural motel who has a dozen sex offenders as customers told a group of legislators that someone had stuck a needle behind their ears and sucked out all of the common sense. My theory is that there is something under the golden dome of the capital that interferes with brain function.

Attitudes toward criminal activity depend to some degree on the person's self-assessment of their vulnerability to criminal activity and of the risk of such activity. What we have done in Iowa is to increase the risk of a sex crime in the areas with the highest vulnerability.

Posted by: John Neff | Jan 17, 2007 4:25:16 PM

We are approaching this from the wrong perspective. The real issue: not all sex offenders present the same danger to the community.

If an offender has been released it is because society has deemed the price paid AND the offender no longer a danger to society. An offender who cannot be released under these conditions should not be released. This means that attention is required "in the CAN" and in the PRE-release phase. This is so that we stop placing the cart before the donkey once we recognize the donkey won't move the cart. It is beginning to be shown that this conclusion is the only reasonable one. Treating the issue of dangerousness Post-Release is not the answer. UPDATE ADDED: At the same time, respecting sentencing, the length of incarceration necessary should be tied to a real assessment of the immediate risk. I assume that only the dangerous need to be locked up. All others should receive appropriate punishments short of incarceration.

Post-release banishment performs nothing more than ongoing punishment in effect, if not in name AND is only counterproductive. Safety is not the true or objective purpose of registration laws (which are starting to take on all the characteristics of banishment). Safety cannot possibly be the real concern because these laws leave risk undefined and unaccounted for in the registration scheme.

A case by case approach is necessary to deal with each individual (sex offender or not) who might present a risk upon release (or indictment). An approach that treats every sex offender as if he were the "the worst of the worst" is very, very flawed. (A law and economics approach to this might be rather interesting to contemplate.) The laws only make it possible to shift the blame (political risk), allowing unscrupulous legislators to say "we tried," when "the worst of the worst" strike again. Recidivism is extremely rare in any event but gets all the attention when it does occur.

It is important to get this right in advance of painting the entire community of offenders as dangerous, registering and banishing and taking away earning power, as further punishment for what was in many, many cases a youthful indiscretion, mistake, or tryst.

Also, in more cases than we care to admit sex offenders have been convicted on the basis of false accusations by abusive prosecutors who hold (and withhold) evidence. Sometimes they get caught, as we can see from the Duke rape case, which if you missed it, was featured on CNN by Paula Zahn last night. I wonder whether these cases would not already have garnered pleas if the defendants were not rich, or if they were black and/or if the victim was white.

It is so much harder to throw the illegitimately caught fish back into the river when you are so blind (or greedy). In the deep and deeper South, race and being a Yankee also enter, writ large.

Posted by: Major Mori | Jan 17, 2007 8:15:43 PM

American citizen. As free americans, civil rights are for all. Restrictions/conditions placed on citizens who are free proves registration is punishment and are serious civil right violations. Please send for my report. $ 255.-- MOLINA 927 south Bruce--5 Anaheim, Ca. 92804

Posted by: MOLINA | Feb 22, 2007 2:57:45 PM

Innocent people will be further oppressed / suppressed and obstructed from justice when they are not allowed Due Process. One must be allowed to present and expose the tampering of evidence that confirms no crime occurred and the planted serious fraud in jury instruction. The scales of justice can be rigged for you to fail and one must be allowed Due Process to expose the tampering of evidence and the obstruction of justice. All americans must be protected.

Posted by: MOLINA | May 7, 2007 4:21:11 AM

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