North Dakota’s on track to have its first statewide restriction on where high-risk sex offenders can live, with lawmakers voting almost unanimously for a bill that would prohibit such offenders from residing within 500 feet of a school.
House Bill 1334, which has received little media attention, quietly passed the House in February and the Senate this week. The bill has not yet been sent to Gov. Doug Burgum, who generally does not comment on legislation before it reaches his desk, his spokesman Mike Nowatzki said Thursday, March 30.
Over two-dozen other states have imposed blanket restrictions on where sex offenders can live. But no research has shown that these restrictions prevent sex crimes. Rather, in some cases they’ve led to “loss of housing, loss of support systems, and financial hardship that may aggravate rather than mitigate offender risk,” according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The manager of North Dakota’s sex offender program, who testified against the bill, agrees that such restrictions don’t have the desired effect. “Setting up an imaginary boundary of 500 feet from a school, I think, could provide a false sense of security and that, I think, could be very dangerous,” said Barb Breiland of the state’s parole and probation division. Full Article