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Commentary

Strategies for reducing COVID-19 exposure [paper]

[mitchellhamline.edu – 3/28/20]

SEX OFFENSE LITIGATION AND POLICY RESOURCE CENTER

Strategies for reducing COVID-19 exposure by revising the implementation of registration policies, housing banishment laws, and other restrictions impacting people with convictions

MARCH 28, 2020 – We join numerous criminal justice organizations that have issued policy recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by suspending or eliminating non-essential police and court functions, while ensuring that law enforcement resources are used wisely to keep communities safe.

This guidance focuses on policies affecting people listed on sex offense registries. More than 900,000 Americans are subject to registration and/or housing banishment laws. The nature of these rules and regulations and the enormous number of people who must comply with or enforce them, raise urgent concerns about public health and resource allocation in this extraordinary time.

During the registration process, people are typically required to fill out forms stating their address, employer, school, phone number, vehicle data, etc. and to return, in person, to report even trivial changes.These cumbersome registration processes tie up sworn officers who could instead be investigating crime, attending to emergencies, and assisting people in crisis.

Housing banishment laws often prohibit people from residing in the vast majority of residential areas of a city or town. As a result, those with stable homes, or several housing options, frequently become homeless anyway. This false scarcity of housing also increases prison populations as people have no legally authorized home in which to serve their parole or probation.

Even before COVID-19, the unintended consequences of these policies were well documented. The current pandemic, however, adds urgency to revise current registry and banishment practices as many of them undermine the critical public health measures being implemented nationwide to contain its spread.

The following strategies would reduce COVID-19 exposure among law enforcement officials and those required to register, as well as their families at home, and the broader community:

 

Download a PDF of the paper

States around the country have responded intelligently to the problem:

Oregon: Sex Offender Registration COVID-19 Outbreak Emergency Protocol [PDF]

Pennsylvania: COVID-19 Public Web Alert

 

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Let’s see if anybody follows this advice.

@ Jack if one thinks about it. Janices and her team are doing the right thing. Yes everybody wanted to blame Piston Coal company or the Government mind inspectors. Dads small utility company he worked for serviced many residents in that area when the dam wiped out much of everything in that mining camp hollar back in the 70’s. believe me a lot of people filed challanged claims . Dad’ had to go thru much of this and the lawyers for the utilities company also. Wasn’t a pretty sight. Don’t remember the Gov. at the time but it was intense… Read more »

The truth is going mainstream. And it won’t stop there.

Actually Jack this virus pandemic gives one time to reflect on those poor people going thru all this. So what is the #1 weapon we all should use in this offender war. The word of God. It only makes since. Now I don’t know what each person belief’s are. Evidently one believed in that person on the other end of the internet And evidently one believed in the interrigation procedures or were intimidated along the line. Criminal Justice is good if one really understands justice. Can government justify their ways and means in this convid-19 ordeal when they don’t actually… Read more »

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