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November 29, 2007

A turning point on sex offender residency restrictions?

I am pleased to see this new article from the Kansas City Star entitled "Georgia ruling on sex offenders prompts other states, including Missouri, to re-examine laws." Here is how it starts:

Georgia Supreme Court ruling has refueled the debate on whether states should restrict where sex offenders live.  The Georgia court struck down its residency restrictions last week, giving opponents of such buffer zones hope that other state laws will be reviewed and possibly overturned....

At least 21 states — including Missouri — have laws that ban registered sex offenders from living within a specified distance of schools, day-care centers and in some cases parks, swimming pools and bus stops.  After high-profile child abductions and sexual assaults, parents across the nation fought for the buffer zones, urging lawmakers to protect their children from sexual predators.

Some authorities think the laws, if properly enforced, are helpful. “I do think there’s an increased danger if a sex offender is in close proximity to children that they’ll re-offend,” Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd said. “Many are pedophiles in the truest sense of the word.”

But for the past three years, opposition to residency restrictions has grown. Opponents say buffer zones create a false sense of security for parents because offenders are restricted only in where they live, not in where they go.  Also, ... in the vast majority of cases children know their molesters....

Opponents also say that residency restrictions lead many offenders to stop registering, which they are required by law to do; become homeless; or move to rural areas where they can’t be easily tracked. In Iowa, where courts have upheld the buffer zones, authorities estimate that they have lost track of many offenders and say it will only get worse.

That’s why Georgia’s ruling was “monumental,” said Corwin Ritchie of the Iowa County Attorneys Association. “When these laws were first bantered about, they sold an awfully convincing bill of goods, that they are awfully good safety measures,” Ritchie said. “I think in Georgia they are seeing the full impact of the unintended consequences and saying this is not constitutional.”

I hope it is true that the Georgia Supreme Court's recent ruling in Mann (discussed here and here) starts to turn the tide on residency restrictions  — or at least leads to more inquiries about the efficacy of these laws.  However, because Mann is based on a contestable Takings theory, I am not yet confident that we are at a sea change moment with these laws.

November 29, 2007 at 06:48 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Well i am glad for georgia!! I'm not going to have a good christmas. I am being forced to move out of my house that i bought in 2001 for being to close to a school which wasnt even law when i plead out to unlawful sexual conduct. i live 983 ft away from the corner of the abandoned baseball field,but yet the school and the new sports fields are another 312 ft away,so nobody is even using this field. I cant move to nicer suburbs of columbus,ohio because their laws are too strict,so i guess my son will have to suffer and go to inner-city schools or even though i love his mother very much and him when it's time for him to go too school they should move away from me so he and her can have a better life.I didnt even have a speeding ticket when i got into trouble 8 years ago,never violated probation,during the other 4 years when i was off probation i still haven't even gotten the slightes thing as a speeding ticket. I am categorized with rapist,pedophiles and such,but i met the girl in a night-club where you had to be 18 to get in,but yet nobody punished her for using a fake id or child abuse because it came out that she was 6 weeks pregnant when we met in the night-club. I was scared because i have never been in trouble before and listened to my dumb $15k lawyer who knew i was scared take the plea, where i got 30 days in jail and 3 yrs probation and 10years register. he said there would be a hearing for the registering part and there never was and in hind-sight if i fought it and loss i would of gotten the same punishment.
The second holiday gift i got came today on the reclassification of sex offenders. i knew it was coming and thought i had nothing to worry about and the last time i registered the sheriff said i would be a tier 3,so dont worry.guess what? i am a tier 2!!! i have 17 more years added to my registering,i have to do it 2x a year now,and a bunch of other stuff.How can they do this? I plead out to a bad deal but it wasnt this bad,so how can they change my punishment after the fact? i would of fought it for sure if i knew they could change things down the road. I knew this would be a long hiccup in my life but it would be all over when i was 34.Now with the having to move,registering 17 more years how do they expect you to get on with your life and be a contributing citizen ,hold a job, move your family to bigger and better things? they are not only punishing me now they are punishing my sons life too.I feel like now my life is over and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. i wanted this too all be over by the time my son understood things more and he would not have any idea of it,but now by the time he is graduating i may be done registering by then. what's the use? i wasnt out looking for trouble and she lied about her age and from that my life is ruined because off all these laws that have been added on after i was sentenced. What should i do?? I really need suggestions or something,because i dont know what to do at all. I have even thought about telling my wife to leave me and her and my son just move and start a new life wthout me so this doesnt effect them anymore and eventually they will forget me. The whole thing is like the nazi ss and the jews. a illegal immigrant has more rights than i do. Why do i even have to pay taxes when i not even treated like a citizen anymore? I have done everything they have asked from me at sentencing,But i cant take it anymore of them adding things on for kicks.SOMEONE PLEASE HELP OR IDEAS BECAUSE MY LIFE IS JUST SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL!!

Posted by: todd | Dec 1, 2007 2:14:36 AM

In 1992 I had a burglary with battery and an attempeted sexual battery charge a case which involved my ex-wife its a long complicated story but i was not guilty I had a public defender who told me that if I didnt take a plea deal for 3 years and went to trial and lost that i would receive a life sentence. I was 19 years old a 3 years sounded a whole lot bette than life so I took the deal, nonone told me that by doin so I would not be eligble for gain time in prison couldnt go to work release and now i have to register as a sex offender for a case from 1992. I have to go to the sheriffs dept 4 times a year I had to register my email addresses and instant messenger names I had to get a statute put on my drivers I mean whats next. Since my release from prison I havent been in any trouble Im married have 3 sons own a house and some land and im still a prisoner. I was innocent besides that my case didnt even involve any children i hate bein in the category with child molestors everyone is thrown in to one category which is not right each case is different and should be dealt with as so.

Posted by: rick | Dec 3, 2007 2:07:31 AM

I find it refreshing to see some in the legal community giving some positive voice to the sex offender of which I am one. We are not all the same and many of us learn from our inappropriate behavior and can become positive productive citizens. Current laws make that nearly impossible.

Thanks for your informative blog.

Posted by: Ed Gundersen | Dec 5, 2007 10:05:57 AM

heres something you might find interesting www.operationawareness.com/lunsford_paradox.html

Posted by: rick | Dec 5, 2007 8:14:21 PM

If the residency restrictions are ultimately upheld then there will be more and more restrictions placed, including not being able to attend church, go to the grocery store, and maybe even a restriction on even being able to spend Christmas with the family because there will be children there.

When you take away hope of being a good member of society then there is no reason to be a good member of society.

Posted by: JWK | Dec 15, 2007 5:25:15 PM

I hate to say this, but our Country is becoming a fascist nation. With legitimate statistics showing that ex felon sex offenders rarely re-offend, I think these laws are not only a waste of public resources, but they do not protect anyone. In fact, I can show evidence that these laws do all of us more harm than good.

I have some opinions:

1) People who sexually offend children are obviously disordered in their social mentality. One key factor in rehabilitating such individuals is to bring them into a proper {age appropriate} social network, support group, community... whatever! These online registries make it next to impossible for an ex child offender to establish and cultivate age appropriate peer relationships because of the stigma placed on them by bogus statistic, junk science, and fallacious propaganda. The result is that they become MORE DANGEROUS because their social needs cannot be met. I have read the autobiographies of numerous child sex offenders. I was so disturbed by the realities many of these men had to suffer that I began to take a deeper look at myself and my opinions concerning these individuals. The fact that they were terribly abused as children certainly doesn't excuse them from their crimes. But it DOES indicate that there are serious social development problems plaguing our Country. I ask you this: "Why are we making matters worse for people who need help, a hand of genuine friendship, or just simple human compassion?"
There are too many people elevating themselves on this "Kill the sex offenders" issue, both politically and socially, and it's a damn disgrace. Especially when it's being done by those who call themselves Christians. Only ONE out of FOUR offenders ever commit the crime again, and I believe that it's the fault of our system. Not them!

2) Sex Offender Treatment programs will not succeed when they're embedded with lies, hypocrisy, and betrayals, in the name of rehabilitation. I have met many individual that call themselves "sex offender specialists" that are so wrapped up in stereotyping, cliche and platitudes, and the "status quo" of current public interest/vigilante-ism, that there's no way on earth they can be effective clinicians. Many of these people I investigated are not even properly trained, credentialed, or licensed. These realities fly in the face of trust. {And don't start with the BS about how child offenders betrayed the trust of children--because two wrongs don't make a right}, and these people undermine the great success potentials legitimate sex offender programs offer. Some States; like Massachusetts, have implemented unscrupulous treatment programs that are "run" by prison authorities and are fraudulent. The American People have lost their sense of Justice for ALL, over the myths about sex offenders that the media and government together are using to test the waters of forever changing our civil rights in this country. If an ex child molester does his time for the crime, and he goes a step beyond and seeks help, it should be given, and he should be praised for his efforts. Not betrayed and ostracized for disclosing the realities that led him/her to become an offender in an effort to assure it never happens again.

3) Community support is another key resource missing in America today. People make mistakes. People get mentally and emotionally ill. Are we so selfish that we no longer have a desire to help our own. We are so busy policing other countries that we are neglecting to properly police our own. We have the most prisoners in the world. That speaks volumes for this society. Registration with public notification contributes only to the disabilities of ex offenders, and drains our public welfare and disability resources, because ex offenders find it impossible to find work. The shame and guilt living within most ex offenders is enough to keep them from doing it again. How about a little compassion and effort to help these men and women renew their lives?

4) Residency Restrictions is bigotry at its worst! I would rather have a reformed offender living next to me and my children than one that has never been caught. Keeping ex offenders out of our neighborhoods is not the solution to the psycho-sexual problems that are plaguing this Country. Residency restrictions should be a part of an original criminal sentence, if they are to exist at all.

Finally, I believe that registration information belongs ONLY in the hands of responsible law enforcement agencies, not potential vigilantes. Residency restrictions are UNCONSTITUTIONAL and have NO place in a true American society. No first time offender should have to suffer such restrictions, and these types of restrictions should be a part of a conviction for a second or third offense. Most importantly, people who were never abused by a sex offender should but out! I think it's time for Americans to re-learn how to mind their own business, and let the Justice system sort things out for only the individuals involved. Taking out frustrations on ALL offenders for the horrific child murders that have occurred over the years has been a fuel for increasing levels of anger and violence among our population. The evidence is clear, we are part of a co-operative conspiracy to eliminate Civil Rights, one class at a time!
I think we all need to rethink what we're supporting and allowing to transpire in our Country. We may ALL wake up one day and find that the rights we cherish so much no longer exist.

Posted by: TMaximus95 | Jan 3, 2008 11:16:07 AM

i pleades guilty to rape 28 years ago and still dealing with the injustice, my plea agreement in 1981, never said i had to report my address and where i am for life. someone ought to investagate adam walsh over his childs death.

Posted by: james | Jan 5, 2008 5:58:17 PM

If you are a registered sex offender you mightas well hang it up for the rest of your life.My fiancee is classified as a sex offender. He had a public defender the first time to. They told him if he did not make a deal he would get 20 years to life. He was not guilty they did not find his semon on her but he was scared because his lawyer(aka public defender said to take the deal).He moved to fla. and registered.The police were coming by his residents to check on him.He was always where he was suppose to be. Now he is locked up for 1count of failure to report.I hired a lawyer that did nothing.He excepted the 2500.00 but did not help.

Posted by: TMB | Mar 7, 2009 1:08:37 PM

I would like to say that my husband is a listed sex offender. What did he do? He got a new computer and was surfing around to see what was on it. He happened to come upon a porn site. He looked and then went on. He discovered a chat room and began chatting with a women that he did not know. After talking about many things, he happened to mention the porn site that he had run across on the internet. The woman said that she did not believe that there was a site like that and asked him to go back to it and get a picture and send it to her. He did not want to, but she persisted, and so finally he did. Well, she turned out to be an undercover officer and he was arrested as a sex offender. The picture, that he sent had an under aged child in it. It was not his picture and he did not know even who it was, but he is now a registered sex offender. He went to prison for a year. They even took away his monthly social security check, which he earned. He had bills to pay but with no money, he had to rely on credit cards to pay his bills. when he got out, he had lost everything he had, and was saddled with many bills. He must register every 3 months because sending this picture on the internet is called a fellony. He has always been a law abiding citizen, never done anything wrong, and has never even gotten a traffic ticket. He would never hurt anyone, but he is a listed sex offender, which he is not. People who see his picture on the registry think that he is a monster. He is inocent of what they have him listed as. I think that many of the people, who are on the registry, are just as innocent as my husband is. He had a lawyer, but his lawyer stood at the back of the room when he was sentenced. The judge asked him if he was guilty or not guilty. He said, I did send the picture, so i guess I am guilty. So he was sentenced to a year in prison, and the rest of his life is ruined. I think that spending a year in prison and having his Social security taken away from him was more than enough punishment. He paid for the crime, but it never ends. People who murder someone and go to prison, when they come out they do not get put on a registry. They do not need to register for the rest of their life. They pick up their life and start over again. I think the law needs to be changed. They need to spell out just what the person did, and when they are punished for their crime, as my husband was, they should come out a free man, period. But no, they are all linked together on the registry as bad sex offenders. The U.S District Judge Victoria Roberts of Michigan has ruled the sex offender list is unconstitutional and has removed the list from the internet. There will be a ruling soon on this matter. I hope that other States will follow suit. And if it must go back up, go through the list of sex offenders and remove the ones that are not a danger to society. I know that there are many of them on the registry that are not a danger to anyone. Help the many people come back into society and have productive lives instead of making their lives and their families lives miserable. Give them a chance to live a happy normal life.

Posted by: R.A. M. | Mar 19, 2009 11:16:04 PM

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