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ME: Bill prohibiting sex offender living restrictions raises worry

CONCORD — A bill prohibiting residency restrictions for registered sex offenders and offenders against children which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month is causing concern among some legislators, who say the bill would strip communities of their ability to protect children.

HB 1237 is based upon two court decisions where judges found local ordinances restricting residency for offenders to be unconstitutional.

One of the cases cited came out of Dover District Court. In August of 2009, Dover’s ordinance that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or day care center was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Mark Weaver after a challenge by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. Weaver found the city did not show a substantial relationship between the ordinance and the protection of children. Full Article

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I wrote an email to the author of this piece:
Ms. Haas
I do not live in your state, however, I must point out that I applaud the statements made by those who support this bill and Judge Weaver’s ruling. What is missing from your article is the research that shows that residency restrictions are ineffective. They do not protect anyone. They do inflict unnecessary hardship on registrants who have paid for their offense and their families. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820068/ The aforementioned link is to only one of many articles citing the fact that residency restrictions serve no purpose other than a false sense of security and revenge satisfaction. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported in 2012 that the recidivism rate for registrants (a new sex offense) is 1.9%, so 98% of registrants will never offend again. Many citizens on the registry did not commit a hand’s-on offense and some had consensual sex with statutory consequences, e.g. Romeo and Juliet sexual relationships. It is a fact that many registrants have never been a threat to the public at all but myths and hype drive the public to agree to ineffective laws that waste tax dollars, but really do not protect.

I can only hope that this bill passes based on fact and truth, and is not buried by legislature in an attempt to show themselves “tough on crime” and “protecting the children.” They are not. It would be much more cost effective to spend tax dollars on education and preventative measures rather than punitive ones.

Way to go, @margaret moon! Here is a very recent and detailed study about residency restrictions and recidivism. It is very technical (I guess that makes it good) and I have so far only briefly looked it over, but the conclusion is that these restrictions are not what they are sold to be.

An Evaluation of Sex Offender Residency Restrictions in Michigan and Missouri , July 2013
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/242952.pdf

The uproar is mostly to do with taking the hot air out of the rhetoric windbags that keep beating this drum to gain political favor. That’s all. It is not about public safety, it is about using fear, distortions and panic to protect career politicians and public officials.

I Reconstruct, Reclassify, Rethink and Reform the Sex Offender Registry

Don’t forget, there is no correlation between proximity and recidivism even between those registrants who do reoffend. In other words, of the 2% who reoffend, the percentages of THOSE individuals are no different, proportionally, from those who live within the restriction or outside the restriction areas.

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