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Clusters are Shelters for Sex Offenders, Danger Zones for Public

September 9, 2009

FoxNews : Clusters are Shelters for Sex Offenders, Danger Zones for Public.

Shame on FoxNews for misusing the term “pedophiles” when referring to sex offenders. Most sex offenders are not pedophiles and they should be accurate about this.

It is called clustering — and it is raising alarms from coast to coast, from Florida to Iowa to California.

As states and municipalities have enacted laws that bar registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and other places where children congregate, they have been forced to settle down in more remote, often rural, areas where restrictions haven’t been imposed or there is enough space to avoid them.

Experts call that a recipe for disaster that could create far more danger to the public and undo all the work that imposing restrictive living measures for offenders has tried to accomplish.

There are 674,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States. An estimated 100,000 of them have failed to register. And their sheer numbers are overwhelming police efforts to keep track of them, according to police and experts in the field.

But the prognosis for the future is grim as more and more states, counties and municipalities pass ever stricter sex-offender laws.

“The simple fact is that wherever restrictive laws are enacted, there is a good chance that clustering will occur,” Levenson said.

The irony of the situation is that efforts to rid towns of sex offenders may actually be making the situation worse. Experts say that as more governing bodies pass laws restricting where sexual offenders can live, the more inclined they are to find “cluster” areas where they can legally settle.

“Packing them away from cities means there are fewer treatment options, less oversight and less support,” say Miai Christopher, executive director of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. “And stability is the most important element in keeping sex offenders from committing further crimes.”

“In neighborhoods near the clusters,” according to Levenson, “there is increased fear, people feel unsafe and they worry about whether they are more likely to be the victims of an offense.”

“It is not where they aren’t living that is the problem, it is where they are,” says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “If you put these guys together it will lead to a higher incidence of sex abuse as they talk about this stuff. I see it as a dangerous trend.”

We have been citing these facts for almost two years now; residency restrictions actually decrease public safety.

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