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Ohio Supremes Ban Retroactive Use of Sex Offender Law

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Court: Sex offender law not retroactive

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 13 (UPI) — A law on registration and community notification for released sex offenders cannot be applied retroactively, the Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday.

The justices ruled 5-2 the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Law can only be applied to offenders who committed their crimes after it became effective, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported. The court reversed a decision by a state appeals court.

“The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders,” Justice Paul Pfeifer said. “It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, ‘impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities as to a past transaction.'”

Justice Terrence O’Donnell in the minority opinion said the court has said in previous rulings that requiring sex offenders to register and providing community notification in some cases are civil sanctions, not criminal penalties.

Ohio Supremes Ban Retroactive Use of Sex Offender Law: Hundreds of previously-convicted sex offenders will be affected

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a ruling published today, has declared that imposing “enhanced” sex offender registration and community notification requirements on previously-convicted sex offenders, as required by the Ohio Adam Walsh Act (AWA) which was contained in 2007’s Senate Bill (SB) 10 is a violation of the Ohio Constitution.

“When the General Assembly adopted the AWA by enacting 2007 S.B. 10,” stated a Ohio Supreme Court press release, “it included statutory language requiring that, regardless of the date on which a defendant’s crime was committed, state courts sentencing sex offenders on or after July 1, 2007 must apply a new three-tiered AWA offender classification scheme and must include in the defendant’s sentence registration and community notification requirements set forth in the AWA that are more severe than similar provisions in the prior, Megan’s Law, version of the statute.”

The decision was based on Article II, Sec. 28 of the Ohio Constitution, which states in part, “The general assembly shall have no power to pass retroactive laws.” Similar wording can be found in the U.S. Constitution as well, where one clause in Article I, Sec. 9 reads, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto [“after the fact”] Law shall be passed.”

The case at issue was State v. George Williams, where the defendant had been convicted for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor—conduct which took place prior to July, 2007, although Williams was convicted on the charges in December, 2007, after SB 10 had been passed.

“Prior to his sentencing hearing,” the Supreme Court’s press release stated, “Williams entered a motion asking the trial court to sentence him under the Megan’s Law sex offender classification scheme that was in effect on the date of his offense, rather than under the AWA classification scheme. The trial court overruled Williams’ motion. Pursuant to the AWA he was classified as a Tier II offender, which required him to register with the sheriff in his county of residence, and in any other county in which he worked or attended school, every 180 days for the next 25 years.” Under Megan’s Law, his registration and reporting requirements would have been limited to 10 years.

Williams appealed that ruling under the ex post facto/retroactivity clauses of both the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions, as well as arguing violation of the U.S. Constitution’s due process clauses and its ban on double jeopardy.

Another portion of the AWA, which would have allowed the Ohio Attorney General to reclassify sex offenders without the necessity of judicial approval, was overturned by the same court just over one year ago.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision, authored by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, overturning the AWA was largely based on the fact that while several state decisions had held that the registration requirements of Megan’s Law were considered remedial rather than punitive in nature, “Following the enactment of SB 10, all doubt has been removed: R.C. Chapter 2950 [the AWA] is punitive,” Justice Pfeifer stated in the majority opinion. “The statutory scheme has changed dramatically since this court described (in [State v.] Cook) the registration process imposed on sex offenders as an inconvenience ‘comparable to renewing a driver’s license.’ … And it has changed markedly since this court concluded in [State v.] Ferguson that R.C. Chapter 2950 was remedial…

“Based on these significant changes to the statutory scheme governing sex offenders, we are no longer convinced that R.C. Chapter 2950 is remedial, even though some elements of it remain remedial…,” the high court concluded. “We conclude that SB 10, as applied to Williams and any other sex offender who committed an offense prior to the enactment of SB 10, violates Section 28, Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits the General Assembly from enacting retroactive laws.”

“The Ohio Supreme Court decision in Williams does a really good job of explaining how in light of these internet websites that we now have, and community notification and criminal penalties attaching and more periodic registration in person with a sheriff there, all of these measures are looking more and more and more like punishment and less and less and less like a driver’s license,” one attorney analyzed, “and as that shift has happened, it’s become more like criminal punishment, and really, the Ohio Supreme Court is the first top court in a state to characterize it that way.”

Kinsley said that through her discovery motions in the case, it had been revealed that hundreds of people in Ohio will be affected by today’s decision, and will now be able to get on with their lives without the stigma of appearing on sex offender websites.

Court: Law applied to convicted sex offenders violates constitution

The legislature’s attempt four years ago to apply a new law to already-convicted sexual offenders violated the Ohio Constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

Imposing enhanced registration and community notification requirements in the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Act against defendants whose crimes were committed before the effective date of that law violates a constitutional prohibition on the General Assembly enacting retroactive laws, the justices declared.

The 5-2 decision, which reversed a ruling by the 12th District Court of Appeals, was written by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer.

“The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders,” Pfeifer said. “It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, ‘impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities as to a past transaction.’ “

Joining the majority opinion were Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Yvette McGee Brown.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell authored the dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Robert R. Cupp.

Today’s decision came on the appeal of George Williams of Warren County, convicted in December 2007 for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor an offense that occurred before the Adam Walsh Act took effect. Williams asked the judge to sentence him under the previous sex offender classification setup, known as Megan’s Law.

The judge rejected that motion and classified him under the more stringent Adam Walsh Act as a Tier II offender, which required him to register with the sheriff in his home county and in any other county in which he worked or attended school, every 180 days for the ensuing 25 years.

Williams appealed, but was turned down by the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Pfeifer noted that in earlier Supreme Court decisions on previous changes in the sex offender law, justices upheld the changes because they were more remedial than punitive, and thus the constitutional ban on retroactive laws did not apply. But the changes in the Adam Walsh Act made them punitive, and therefore unconstitutional.

The Ohio Supreme Court could have new rules when it comes to registering sex offenders…unless the crime was committed before 2007.

Call to Action : OH Legislature Going at it Again – Part 2

February 4, 2011 Comments off

It appears that a similar bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate in Nov. 2010. Senate Bill 316 was proposed by Senators: Seitz, Miller, D. Wagoner, Grendell, Turner, and Smith.

Senate Bill 316 is “to clarify for an offender or delinquent child who had SORN Law duties under the SORN Law in effect prior to January 1, 2008, the offender’s or child’s duties under the current SORN Law and the duration of those duties and to declare an emergency.”

Those who are concerned about this attempt to retroactively re-capture (onto the sex offender registries) all offenders whose crimes pre-dated the 2008 law change, should immediately contact these Senators to voice your opposition.

SB 316 Sponsors:

Bill Seitz (R)
Phone: (614) 466-8068
Email: SD08@senate.state.oh.us

Mark Wagoner (R)
Phone: (614) 466-8060
Email: SD02@senate.state.oh.us

Tim Grendell (R)
Phone: (614) 644-7718
Email: SD18@senate.state.oh.us

Nina Turner (D)
Phone: (614) 466-4583
Email: SD25@maild.sen.state.oh.us

Shirley A. Smith (D)
Phone: (614) 466-4857
Email: SD21@maild.sen.state.oh.us

The intent of SB 316 and HB 77 is to:

“Create a list of all the sex offenders who were reclassified via the 2010 Bodyke ruling, notifying them all by mail, and forcing them into court one at a time to have a judge issue a new Adam Walsh Act sentencing order. It would re-reclassify all of these individuals into the AWA tier scheme, adding thousands to the registry, many for life.”

Both of these bills will be debated within the respective House & Senate Criminal Justice Committees. Readers should contact the members of this committee in order to voice your opposition to these bills.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee (re: SB 316)

http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committees/standing/detail/judiciary-criminal-justice.html


Tim Grendell (R)
Chair

Larry Obhof (R)
Vice Chair

Nina Turner (D)
Ranking Minority Member

Eric Kearney (D)

Frank LaRose (R)

Peggy Lehner (R)

Scott Oelslager (R)

Joe Schiavoni (D)

Mark Wagoner (R)

House Criminal Justice Committee ( re: HB77)

http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaycommittees&task=2&type=Regular&committeeId=98

Criminal Justice
Name Party Position Name Party Position
Lynn Slaby R Chair Roland Winburn D Ranking Minority Member
Bill Hayes R Vice Chair Nancy J. Garland D Member
Louis W. Blessing, Jr. R Member Connie Pillich D Member
Danny R. Bubp R Member W. Carlton Weddington D Member
William P. Coley, II R Member Sandra Williams D Member
Joseph W. Uecker R Member


Ron Young R Member

Call to Action : OH Legislature Going at it Again

February 3, 2011 Comments off

CALL TO ACTION:

Ohio Legislators are going at it again. Just six months after having been soundly defeated in the June 2010 Bodyke vs. Ohio Supreme Court ruling, seven Ohio House Representatives have proposed new legislation to retroactively revise Ohio’s sex offender laws to re-capture all offenders who committed crimes before 2008 onto the rolls of the sex offender registry.

Those concerned about this proposed legislation must contact the seven Representatives immediately to express their opposition to this bill. If we are forced to do so, ConstitutionalFights will return to the battlefield to help defeat this latest attempt by the Ohio Legislature to violate the constitutional rights of 30,000 Ohio citizens.

The newly proposed bill, House Bill 77 of the 129th General Assembly would amend and repeal parts of the existing Ohio sex offender statutes to:

“clarify that SORN Law definitions of sexually oriented offenses, child-victim oriented offenses, tier classifications, public registry-qualified juvenile offender registrants, and related terms include the specified offenses regardless of when they were committed and to provide for court reclassification of offenders and delinquent children who committed their sexually oriented offense or child-victim oriented offense prior to January 1, 2008, and had SORN Law duties based on that offense into one of the tier classifications of the current SORN Law.

View proposed HB 77.

Bill Sponsors:

REPRESENTATIVES:
Hackett Garland Blessing Combs Grossman Hottinger Patmon

Bob D. Hackett, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 84
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
11th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-1470
Fax: (614) 719-6984
Email: district84@ohr.state.oh.us

Nancy J. Garland, Representative
State Representative (D)
District: 20
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 644-6002
Fax: (614) 719-6959
Email: district20@ohr.state.oh.us

Louis W. Blessing, Jr., Speaker Pro Tempore
State Representative (R)
District: 29
Term: 4th
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-9091
Fax: (614) 719-3583
Email: district29@ohr.state.oh.us

Courtney Combs, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 54
Term: 5th (includes appointed and elected terms)
Term Limit: Not eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 644-6721
Fax: (614) 719-6954
Email: district54@ohr.state.oh.us

Cheryl L. Grossman, Assistant Majority Whip
State Representative (R)
District: 23
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-9690
Fax: (614) 719-6962
Email: district23@ohr.state.oh.us

Jay Hottinger, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 71
Term: 3rd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
12th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-1482
Fax: (614) 719-3971
Email: district71@ohr.state.oh.us

Bill Patmon, Representative
State Representative (D)
District: 10
Term: 1st
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
11th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-7954
Fax: (614) 719-0010
Email: district10@ohr.state.oh.us

We seek legal professionals who are willing to engage in a lawsuit against the State of Ohio should this legislation be put into law. We also still seek legal professionals who are willing to engage in a lawsuit against the State of Ohio regarding the Bodyke Supreme Court ruling of June 2010 for damages of those 30,000 former offenders who were maintained on the sex offender registry 2-1/2 years after they should legally have been removed.

We must collectively hit these legislators squarely in the “front teeth” this time to assure that we do not experience what we experienced between 2008 and 2010.

International Megan’s Law Must be Killed in Congress

July 5, 2010 Comments off

See related posts:
The International Megan’s Law of 2010
HR1623 International Megan’s Law
International Megans Law Moves Forward in US House
Sex Offender Law Could Go Global

The proposed International Megan’s Law must be defeated in Congress.

It has undergone several revisions and it’s bill number has changed. But this International Megan’s Law bill (if passed) would virtually ban any registered sex offender from traveling outside the United States. You need to read and learn about this bill and fight vigilantly to kill it.

Bill Summary:
“H.R. 5138 would protect children from sexual exploitation by mandating reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and other registered sex offenders against minors intending to engage in international travel, providing advance notice of intended travel by high interest registered sex offenders outside the United States to the government of the country of destination, requesting foreign governments to notify the United States when a known child sex offender is seeking to enter the United States.”

We at ConstitutionalFights.org abhor sexual exploitation and abuse of any kind. But we similarly abhor laws such as this, which singles out one group of offenders for extreme punishments and restrictions which amount to constitutional infringements upon their liberty in this great country. Former offenders have the same dreams and desires others have of traveling to other parts of the world. What would you think if the government told YOU that you could never travel outside the US without restrictions, and government monitoring?

From Terry at JusticeinJersey.org:

When I met with Rep. Chris Smith’s office (they had 2 attorneys) I was handed a new copy of bill H.R. 5138 and told that they had revised it. We talked about the revisions and since then I have been reading it line by line for intent and objections. I have sent them three pages so far and am 1/2 way through the bill. I just came across another hidden point which is disturbing and I believe we all should be writing to our Senators and all of the representatives on The Congressional Appropriations Committee.


  • A Fee, not to exceed the amount of $25 will be charged by ICE to all sex offenders as a processing fee. However, this fee can be increased thereafter, not earlier than 30 days after consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.
    • This is an unlimited pool of money from hardworking sex offenders to pay for the additional resources and to other counties. They are also asking for 250,000 (a quarter mil) as start up money from the our taxpayers in addition to providing resources, money, and technology to other countries.
    • While they also state that this fee shall be waved if the sex offender demonstrates to the satisfaction of ICE, pursuant to a fee waiver process established by ICE, that the payment of such fee would impose and undue financial hardship on the sex offender. (how could one prove hardship when planing to travel internationally? Most SOs fall just above the income line to be able to qualify.)
When I spoke to the Representatives of Congressman Chris Smith’s office, I was assured that the bill was changed to go after the worst of the worst based on risk based evaluations performed by ICE. If that were true this bill would not constantly say just “sex offender” instead of saying “high risk sex offender as identified by ICE through risk based evaluation testing.”

Of course, this bill applies to all registered sex offenders (as written) whose offense involved a minor. And this fee is just one objectionable point in this legislation. The restriction and monitoring of any ex offender who desires to travel internationally is the main point of objection.


Please write your Senator(s) and the Congressional Appropriations Committee

Appropriations Committee Members

Democratic Members

Senator Portrait DANIEL K. INOUYE
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North Dakota

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Pennsylvania

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Please let us know once you have called, emailed or written to the committee and your senator. You should also write to Representative Chris Smith, 2375 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515.


Thank you so much for your time and attention to this important matter.

Terry
www.JusticeInJersey.org
RSOL State Coordinator
NowJustice4All@gmail.com

Two NH Sex Offender Bills Killed

May 27, 2010 Comments off

corrections.com: Two NH sex offender bills killed.

The New Hampshire State Senate last week tabled and thus killed HB 1628, a bill to encourage police to actively notify the neighbors whenever a sex offender is released into their midst. A dozen opponents, including several sex offenders, had packed the senate public hearing on the legislation.

In response, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-1 to kill the bill politely by sending it to interim study in an election year. A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sheila Roberge (R-Bedford), voted to effectively defeat her own legislation after hearing the evidence against it.

There was no debate on the later Senate floor motion to table. Whatever infighting led to that outcome happened behind closed doors. After the vote, one senator said people were worried about the consequences to the families of sex offenders if neighbors got into the habit of welcoming every sex offender harshly.

I certainly expected an emotional floor fight in the senate chambers. Sen. Robert Letourneau (R-Derry) missed the committee vote, but he co-sponsored the bill and would have voted for it. Close split decisions are rare in senate committees and often lead to donnybrooks on the senate floor. All 24 senators received an email from me the night before the final vote with a copy of an op ed I had just published in the Laconia Citizen. The full text appears at the bottom of this update.

I’m sorry to say the Senate killed HB 1484 the same way, a bill to bar towns from imposing residency restrictions against sex offenders. I heard conflicting reasons from senators and sources close to the governor for the surprising vote to table this fine legislation. It had sailed through the House and left Senate Judiciary Committee with a 5-0 ought-to-pass endorsement. The sponsors tentatively plan to resubmit the bill for next year. (contact your senators !)

Losing this favorable legislation was palatable in an election year. Only five towns have adopted these residency restrictions, and several have chosen not to enforce them in light of a district court decision last August. It shot down the Dover residency restriction against sex offenders as a violation of fundamental property rights.

Shh…Georgia’s Sex Offender Law Changed Last Week

May 27, 2010 Comments off

Atlanta.creativeloafing.com: Shh! Georgia’s sex offender law changed last week.

It’s gotten surprisingly little attention, but much of Georgia’s harsh and arguably unconstitutional sex offender law was effectively tossed out last Friday.

That’s when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 571, the near-total rewrite of the 2006 state law authored by Christian Coalition head-turned-politician, Rep. Jerry Keen, R-St. Simon’s. HB 571, in turn, was introduced and shepherded through the Legislature by new House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

So, as of Friday, what’s changed ? Well…

* Sex offenders can’t be forced from their homes or apartments if a park or daycare opens nearby.

* Judges now have discretion to exempt some registered sex offenders from restrictions on where they’re allowed to work.

* Sex offenders are no longer be prohibited from taking part in such church activities as choir and Bible study.

* Homeless sex offenders no longer risk going to prison for failing to have a fixed address.

* Folks won’t be added to the sex-offender registry for a misdemeanor.

The new law also — and this is a biggie — allows judges to remove convicted sex offenders from the state registry after they’ve completed their sentence.

Perhaps just as importantly, the new law provides for sex offenders to be evaluated in terms of their relative risk to the public. For the past few years, the only distinction the law made was in the case of “sexual predators” — serial rapists and child molesters. Everyone else was dumped into the same basket, regardless of whether they’d been convicted of stalking or having sex with an underage girlfriend.

Law-enforcement officials, from the GBI to local sheriffs, have long asked legislators to create a mechanism to differentiate between dangerous pervs and folks like Wendy Whitaker, our cover subject from 2006, who has remained on the state registry despite the fact that she was convicted under a law that was subsequently overturned.

Which brings us to the new law’s shortcomings. For one, it doesn’t address the issue of school bus stops. You’ll recall that, under Keen’s law, sex offenders were prohibited from living near a “designated school bus stop.” That provision was enjoined by a federal judge, however, after it was realized that school systems frequently change bus routes and that there’s no official designation process for bus stops. At this point, I can’t imagine the state would continue to fight to salvage a provision that’s never been enforced.

More troublesome is the fact that the new law applies only to sex offenders convicted since July 2008, meaning it still won’t help folks like Whitaker. Those and other improvements to the law will have to be shaped by future lawsuits.

We say, bring ‘em on !

View Georgia General Assembly HB 571 here.
05/20/10 – House Date Signed by Governor

Summary:
A BILL to be entitled an Act to change and enact provisions of law relating to classification of sexual offenders, sexual offender registration, and restrictions on sexual offenders’ residences, workplaces, and activities; to amend Code Section 5-6-35 of the O.C.G.A., relating to appeals requiring an application for appeal, so as to make such Code section applicable to appeals reviewing a decision of the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board; to amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the O.C.G.A., relating to procedures for sentencing in criminal cases, so as to provide that, classification shall be by the sentencing court rather than the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board; to amend Article 2 of Chapter 1 of Title 42 of the O.C.G.A., relating to classification and registration of sexual offenders and regulation of the conduct of such offenders, so as to revise provisions relating to registration; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Readers in states other than Georgia need to pay attention to this report. Only when the people fight these laws will lawmakers back down. If you are not actively participating in the fight against these abusive sex offender laws, then you are part of the problem!

TX: City Council Expands Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

May 26, 2010 Comments off

kens5.com (TX): Boerne city council votes to expand sex offender boundary lines and prohibited lists.

In a vote of 4-1, Boerne City Council made it unlawful for registered sex offenders to reside within 1500 feet of places where children gather.

Prior to this, state law prohibited registered sex offenders from going within 1000 feet of just schools or parks. Boerne has expanded that list to include public and private playgrounds, daycares, public libraries, and more.

The vote came after an hour and a half of debate. One councilman called it a very decisive issue for the city. The community seemed split down the middle in their support for it or against it.

Those against it argued it would severely limit the areas in which registered sex offenders could live. Thus, it would create a cluster of sex offenders. That would lower property values in those areas, and make it unsafe for the children who already live in those areas.

Another big argument against the ordinance was that it was not ethical or even an effective way to protect children. The councilman who voted against it said, “The threat to our children is so much less the guy in the trench coat hiding under the street light. As it is, it’s the people they already know. The vast majority of crimes to children are committed by the people they know.”

Council also voted to increase the fine for anyone who violates this ordinance from $500 to $2000.

As reported, about half those residents understand that these residency limits do not work, and cause unintended negative consequences for the city. Sadly, their city council is still ignorant about these facts and is still hand-picking low-hanging political fruit from the tree.

The Unconstitutionality and Inefficacy of Sex Offender Residency Laws

May 24, 2010 Comments off

Irregular Passion: The Unconstitutionality and Inefficacy of Sex Offender Residency Laws
by Sarah E. Agudo: Northwestern University – School of Law; Harvard University – John F. Kennedy School of Government

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 102, No. 307, 2008
(download paper here)

Abstract:
Sex offenders are among the most hated members of our society. In recent years, laws protecting society from these offenders have grown increasingly broad; the restrictions have become more severe and applicable to more people. Residency laws, which dictate where sex offenders can live upon release from prison or while on parole, exemplify this trend. Twenty-two states in the United States currently have some form of residency law that restricts where sex offenders can live. For example, many states prohibit sex offenders from living within 1000-2500 feet of schools, bus stops, or daycare centers. Today, public outrage and political risk-aversion have driven these laws to the outer boundaries of constitutionality. It is likely that these recent expansions of sex offender legislation and the ensuing litigation over their constitutionality will prompt a Supreme Court decision establishing the limit on states’ control over their released offenders. Reasonable and constitutionally acceptable residency laws may well exist. The aim of this Comment is not to call for the abolition of all residency laws, but rather to promote a cogent dialogue regarding the upper bounds of their effectiveness and constitutionality in order to provide a framework for future legislation. Although, in many areas of law, democratic processes can adequately safeguard those bounds, the public outrage against sex offenders threatens to chill the usual political protections and justifies careful judicial oversight.

Criminal Justice Resources: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

May 24, 2010 Comments off

llrx.com: Criminal Justice Resources: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions –

There are laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of communities limiting or proscribing where convicted sex offenders may live and work. See Lawsuits Test Crackdown On Sex Criminals, Stateline.org, April 18, 2008; Sex-Offender Residency Laws Get Second Look, USA Today, Feb. 26, 2007. These residency zones or exclusions are frequently imposed in conditions of probation and parole or as a facet of registration laws. They raise constitutional issues in addition to the practical problems created by shutting off access to family members, affordable housing, employment, therapeutic treatment and public services.

This article collects recent court decisions, research papers and reports that have addressed the efficacy of exclusionary zoning laws and the impact of these restrictions on sex offenders reentering their communities. For additional resources on Megan’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act, see generally Ken Strutin, Sex Offender Laws, LLRX, Sept. 28, 2007; and Sex Offender Resources (NACDL).

Case Law

Restrictions have been challenged on a variety of constitutional grounds, such as substantive due process, equal protection, right to travel, ex post facto, bill of attainder (e.g., banishment), and taking of property. See Anti-Sex-Offender Zoning Laws Challenged, Stateline.org, Dec. 9, 2006. Recent appellate decisions show how these laws fare in the gristmill of constitutional analysis, and offer insight into possible paths to Supreme Court resolution. See Exactly When And How Will Scotus Confront Sex Offender Residency Restrictions?, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, May 14, 2008.

  • Georgia: Mann v. Dept. Of Corrections, 282 Ga. 754, 653 S.E.2d 740 (2007)
    “Although we earlier determined appellant’s property interest in his rent-free residence at his parents’ home to be ‘minimal,’ Mann, supra, 278 Ga. at 443 (2), we find appellant’s property interest in the Hibiscus Court residence he purchased with his wife to be significant. As a registered sex offender, the locations where appellant may reside are severely restricted by OCGA § 42-1-15 (a); as recognized by other states, those locations may also be subject to private limitations, see Mulligan v. Panther Valley Prop. Owners Assn., 766 A2d 1186 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) (discussing homeowner association covenants prohibiting sale of property to sex offenders), and we note that HN5 nothing in OCGA § 42-1-12 et seq. expressly precludes Georgia cities and counties from enacting additional restrictions. See Wernick, In Accordance with a Public Outcry: Zoning Out Sex Offenders Through Residence Restrictions in Florida, 58 Fla. L. Rev. 1147, 1163-1164 (2006) (discussing ordinances enacted by local governments in Florida that have expanded state statutory buffer zones). Nevertheless, appellant and his wife were able to find and purchase a house that complied with the residency restriction in OCGA § 42-1-15. The evidence is uncontroverted that the Hibiscus Court property was purchased for the sole purpose of serving as their home. OCGA § 42-1-15, by prohibiting appellant from residing at the Hibiscus Court house, thus utterly impairs appellant’s use of his property as the home he shares with his wife.”
  • Illinois: People v. Morgan, 377 Ill. App. 3d 821, 881 N.E.2d 507, 317 Ill. Dec. 339 (Ill. App. Ct. 3d Dist. 2007)
    “Defendant, [a convicted sex offender] . . . , was convicted following a jury trial of knowingly residing within 500 feet of a school building that persons under the age of 18 attended (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(b-5) (West 2006). Defendant was sentenced to 30 months’ probation and fined. Defendant appeals his conviction and fines. We affirm in part and vacate and remand in part. Turning to the subsection at issue in the instant case, we adopt the reasoning and analysis employed by the Fifth District in Leroy and apply it to the subsection under consideration before us. In doing so, we find that the law is constitutional. We conclude that, in accordance with the analysis employed by the court in Leroy, section 11-9.3(b-5) does not constitute an impermissible ex post facto law. Therefore, defendant’s argument must fail.”
  • Indiana: State v. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640 (Ind. Ct. App. May 13, 2008)
    “For all of these reasons, we hold that Indiana Code section 35-42-4-11, otherwise known as the residency statute, is an ex post facto law as applied to a person in Pollard’s circumstances. The residency statute is a criminal statute that criminalizes residency because of the resident’s status as a sex offender. In addition, the statute’s effect is punitive because it is applied retroactively to sex offenders who established ownership and property rights in a residence prior to the effective date of the statute, and because it forces them to relinquish some or all of their ownership rights or face a felony charge. Perhaps most importantly, Indiana’s residency statute does not exempt ownership established prior to the statute, provide a constitutional taking procedure, or exempt ownership impacted by later construction of a protected facility or area.”
  • Iowa: Wright v. Iowa Dept Of Corrections, No. 01 / 06–0863 (Iowa April 11, 2008)
    “Floyd Wright, who was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor in 1977, challenges the district court’s ruling that he was subject to the residency restrictions of Iowa Code section 692A.2A (2005), which prohibits sex offenders from residing within two thousand feet of certain facilities such as schools. Wright contends that he is not subject to the statute because he was not a “registered” sex offender. Even if the statute were applicable, Wright contends it would violate his equal protection and substantive due process rights and would be invalid as a bill of attainder. The district court rejected his arguments, and so do we.”
  • Missouri: R.L. v. Missouri Department Of Corrections, 245 S.W.3d 236 (Mo. 2008)
    “The same long-standing principles applied in Phillips apply in this case. As with the registration requirements in Phillips, the residency restrictions at issue in this case impose a new obligation upon R.L. and those similarly situated by requiring them to change their place of residence based solely upon offenses committed prior to enactment of the statute. Attaching new obligations to past conduct in this manner violates the bar on retrospective laws set forth in article I, section 13.”
  • Ohio: City of Middleburg Heights v. Brownlee, 2008 Ohio 2036, 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 1739 (Ohio Ct. App., Cuyahoga County May 1, 2008)
    “Defendant John F. Brownlee, Jr. (appellant) appeals the court’s granting an injunction prohibiting him from residing within 1,000 feet of a school. After reviewing the facts of the case and pertinent law, we reverse the court’s ruling and order the injunction vacated. In the instant case, appellant bought his home in 1972; he committed the offensive acts in February and March 2003; and the statute’s effective date is July 31, 2003. Accordingly, the court erred when it applied R.C. 2950.031 to appellant, and his first assignment of error is sustained.”
  • Ohio: Hyle v. Porter, 117 Ohio St. 3d 165, 2008 Ohio 542, 882 N.E.2d 899 (2008)
    “We hold that HN1R.C. 2950.031 does not apply to an offender who bought his home and committed his offense before the effective date of the statute. The judgment of the First District Court of Appeals is reversed.”
  • United States:Validity Of Statutes Imposing Residency Restrictions On Registered Sex Offenders, 25 ALR6th 227
    “In recent years, a number of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders have been enacted. In Doe v. Miller, 405 F.3d 700, 25 A.L.R.6th 695 (8th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 757, 163 L. Ed. 2d 574 (U.S. 2005) (applying Iowa law), the court of appeals held that an Iowa statute that prohibited persons who had committed a criminal sex offense against a minor from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or child care facility, did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was not retroactive criminal punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause, did not interfere with the right of sex offenders to travel, and did not violate the right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. This annotation collects and summarizes those cases in which the courts have determined the validity of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders.”

Articles

Scholars and researchers have examined the effectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offender behavior and its lawfulness as punishment.

  • Banishment By A Thousand Laws: Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders, 85 Wash. U. L. Rev. 101 (2007)
    “Across America, states, localities, and private communities are debating and implementing laws to limit the places of residence of convicted sex offenders. Nineteen states and hundreds, if not thousands, of local communities have adopted statutes which severely limit the places where a sex offender may legally live. In this article, I trace these new laws to historical practices of banishment in Western societies. I argue that the establishment of exclusion zones by states and localities is a form of banishment that I have termed ‘internal exile.’ Establishing the connection to banishment punishments helps to explain the unique legal, policy, and ethical problems these laws create for America. Ultimately, residency restrictions could fundamentally alter basic principles of the American criminal justice system. While those supporting these laws have the interests of children at heart, the policies they are promoting will be worse for children and society.”
  • Constitutional Collectivism And Ex-Offender Residence Exclusion Zones, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 1 (2006)
    “The US has often been imperiled by the competing interests of individual states, and while past threats have most frequently assumed economic or political form, this article addresses a different threat: state efforts to limit where ex-offenders (those convicted of sex crimes in particular) can live. The laws have thus far withstood constitutional challenge, with courts deferring to the police power of states. This deference, however, ignores the negative externalities created when states jettison their human dross, and defies Justice Cardozo’s oft-repeated constitutional tenet that “the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together.” The article discusses the continued need for this tenet in the face of state expulsionist tendencies and invokes in support the Court’s decisions invalidating state laws barring entry of the poor and solid waste. In both instances, the Court, while acknowledging the exigencies motivating states, invalidated the laws because they betrayed the national imperative of dealing with challenges faced by all states. As the article establishes, a kindred understanding and resolve is now necessary as states seek to isolate themselves from the shared national responsibility of offender reentry.”
  • Controlling Sex Offender Reentry: Jessica’s Law Measures In California (SSRN 2006)
    “This paper examines current research on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring and residential restrictions in preventing recidivism amongst sex offenders in California, as well as the experiences of other states that have experimented with these techniques. The paper focuses on four questions: 1) What are the trends in California sex offense data and other states with sizable sex offender populations? 2) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of electronic monitoring in preventing recidivism and absconding of sex offenders? 3) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of residential restrictions in preventing recidivism of sex offenders? 4) In light of California’s sex offender population, and CDCR’s current methods for supervising paroled sex offenders, what challenges would CDCR and other state agencies likely face in implementing expanded electronic monitoring and residential restrictions?”
  • Does Residential Proximity Matter? A Geographic Analysis Of Sex Offense Recidivism, 35 Crim. Just. & Behavior 484 (2008)
    “In an effort to reduce sex offense recidivism, local and state governments have recently passed legislation prohibiting sex offenders from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of child congregation locations such as schools, parks, and daycare centers. Examining the potential deterrent effects of a residency restrictions law in Minnesota, this study analyzed the offense patterns of every sex offender released from Minnesota correctional facilities between 1990 and 2002 who was reincarcerated for a new sex offense prior to 2006. Given that not one of the 224 sex offenses would have likely been prevented by residency restrictions, the findings from this study provide little support for the notion that such restrictions would significantly reduce sexual recidivism.”
  • Has Georgia Gone Too Far-Or Will Sex Offenders Have To?, 35 Hastings Const. L.Q. 309 (2008) $
    “Given the wide range of issues that were presented by Georgia’s latest sex offender residency restriction, this note will discuss how Georgia’s new residency restriction statute, as originally written, violated (1) the Ex Post Facto Clause, (2) the Eighth Amendment, (3) Procedural Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and (4) the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Lastly, the note will analyze potential issues under the Dormant Commerce Clause and other policy considerations to argue that, in practice, the use of such harsh residency restrictions might make for a more dangerous situation for children, sex offenders, and the rest of society.”
  • How To Stop A Predator The Rush To Enact Mandatory Sex Offender Residency Restrictions And Why States Should Abstain 86 Or. L. Rev. 219 (2007) “A new trend in state legislation emerged as twenty-two states entered legally unsettled waters by enacting various residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders. Legislators tout the need for such residency restrictions to reduce child sex offenders’ opportunities for contact with potential victims. However, courts disagree whether these new laws are constitutional, and research increasingly questions their utility. This Comment will first look at the primary legal questions facing the courts, examining various legal challenges to state residency restrictions and the limited research surrounding the efficacy of such restrictions. Next, this Comment will address the 2006 California ballot measure Proposition 83, which serves as a practical case study of these new restrictions and their unsettled legal ramifications. Finally, this Comment will examine Oregon’s nonmandatory residency restriction and explain why it serves as the best model for achieving the goals of protecting our children, monitoring the sex offender population, and withstanding judicial review. Ultimately, this Comment will attempt to show that research on mandatory residency restrictions may affect the way future courts rule on these restrictions. This Comment will also attempt to persuade those presently in favor of mandatory residency restrictions that more flexible, nonmandatory restrictions will increase the likelihood of achieving their stated objectives.”
  • In The Zone: Sex Offenders And The Ten Percent Solutions (SSRN 2008)
    “This Article challenges prevailing judicial orthodoxy that many sex offender residency restrictions are constitutional under the federal Ex Post Facto Clause. The paper applies the analytical framework in Smith v. Doe, the Court’s most recent case involving sex offender legislation. It also forges a new way of thinking about these regimes as land-use policies that “negatively” zone individuals out of the urban cores. The paper proposes an innovative “positive” zoning scheme, the Sex Offender Containment Zone, that zones high-risk convicted sex offenders back into the city and that is effective, humane, and constitutional.”
  • Irregular Passion: The Unconstitutionality And Inefficacy Of Sex Offender Residency Laws, 102 Nw. U. L. Rev. 307 (2008)
    “The Comment concludes that non-tailored residency laws are unconstitutional. These same laws are also unwise and ineffective in terms of their stated goals, rendering them poor policy decisions. Given their ineffectiveness and the threat they pose to fundamental rights, this Part argues that it is important that courts assess the laws rigorously and without bias, particularly because the political outlash against sex offenders is immense, irrational, and hard for legislators to reverse. Until courts correctly deem these non-tailored residency laws unconstitutional, both the rights of sex offenders and the safety of their potential victims will be at risk due to the crippling political outrage surrounding the issue.”
  • Never Going Home: Does It Make Us Safer? Does It Make Sense? Sex Offenders, Residency Restrictions And Reforming Risk Management Law, 97 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 317 (2006)
    “One of the most hotly debated issues in criminal law today is how to manage the perceived risk of sex offenders loose in the community. Beyond mandatory registration and community notification, over a dozen states, including Illinois, have enacted residency restrictions that forbid sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day care centers, or even “places where children normally congregate.” This Comment scrutinizes these laws to see if they make sense, and more importantly, if they make us safer. The answer to both questions appears to be no. After detailing the statistical, political, and constitutional problems that render these restrictions ineffective and unconstitutional, I shift my attention to envisioning a better system of risk management. I end by critically examining best practice methods of states across the country that more effectively allocate finite resources to identify and control high risk offenders to prevent them from harming again, while allowing the vast majority of offenders who are low risk to better re-integrate into and become productive members of society.”
  • Off To Elba: The Legitimacy Of Sex Offender Residence And Employment Restrictions, 40 Akron L. Rev. 339 (2007)
    “This article will look at why sex offenders are treated differently than other criminal offenders. Sex offenders are subject to sanctions and prohibitions above and beyond what other criminal offenders must face. Next, the article will look at some of the residence and employment restrictions placed on sex offenders to determine if they are rationally related to any legitimate government interest without overbearing the sex offender’s constitutional rights. Finally, the article will offer an alternate means of sex offense prevention that encourages sex offender assimilation back into society instead of further exclusion.”
  • Reentry And Reintegration: Challenges Faced By The Families Of Convicted Sex Offenders, 20 Fed. Sent. R. 88 (2007) $
    “Our article will focus on the adult family members of convicted sex offenders and the many challenges they face in reuniting with their loved ones post-incarceration. We will explore the general knowledge on families of prisoners and incorporate preliminary findings from our ongoing research on the experiences and needs of families of convicted adult, male sex offenders.”
  • Sex Offender Re-Entry: A Summary And Policy Recommendation On The Current State Of The Law In California And How To ‘Safely’ Re-Introduce Sex Offenders Into Our Communities (SSRN 2006)
    “This paper attempts to provide a comprehensive review of the current and pending sex offender legislation in California, examine their effectiveness or ineffectiveness and any possible loopholes, and conclude with a broad recommendation on where the state of California’s law and policies surrounding the safe release and supervision of sex offenders into the community should be heading. In doing so, the paper will rely on current statistics on sex offenders in California, policy recommendations by various organizations on this topic, media profiles and case histories of recent real-life sex crimes, and actual data from the California online sex offender registry to discover the profile of the “real” sex offender in California. This paper will also examine the roll of public outcry and moral panic in the implementation of these laws and the effect this may have had on their specific provisions and eventual effectiveness in order to provide a more comprehensive review of the impetus behind such regulations and hopefully to inform future legislation of the lessons of the past.”
  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions: Sensible Crime Policy Or Flawed Logic?, 71 Fed. Prob. 2 (Dec. 2007)
    “Although 22 States now have laws that restrict where sex offenders can live, with 1,000 to 2,500-foot exclusionary zones being most common, research on the effects of sex-offender residence restrictions is limited. Only one study (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2007) has specifically examined the relationship between residence restrictions and reoffending. That study was prospective, because no such law was in place where the study was conducted (Minnesota). There is a growing body of evidence, however, that residence restrictions have unintended consequences for sex offenders and communities. These adverse effects include homelessness for sex offenders; transience; lack of accessibility to social support, employment, and rehabilitative services; registry invalidity; and the clustering of sex offenders in poor, rural, or socially disorganized neighborhoods. Residence laws are often based on erroneous assumptions about sex-offender high reoffending rates and the belief that most sex offenders target strangers for victimization. In addition, they are rarely coupled with the administration of proven risk-assessment instruments and procedures. In the absence of evidence that residence restrictions are effective in achieving their intended goal of improved community safety, their unintended adverse effects may outweigh their benefits. It is crucial that research be conducted to determine whether residence restriction laws are effective.”

Reports

State legislatures and government bureaus along with civil rights and other interested groups have published reports on the outcomes of residence and employment restrictions for sex offenders.

  • IX. Residency Restriction Laws in No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws In The U.S.
    “The inability of convicted sex offenders to find housing when they are released from prison has become a significant barrier to their successful reintegration into society. This is particularly problematic for registrants who have limited resources, or for those who because of work, community, or family obligations want to live in particular locations. Residency restrictions prevent offenders from living in the areas closest to jobs and public transit, since schools, daycare centers, and parks are often built in the center of main residential areas of cities and towns.”
    (Human Rights Watch 2007)
  • Impact Of Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders And Correctional Management Practices: A Literature Review (California Research Bureau 2006)
    “Today some communities in the United States banish sex offenders from living in their midst, resulting in a difficult dilemma: where can these offenders live, and where can they best be supervised and receive treatment, if available? This report describes local ordinances and state statutes restricting where a sex offender may reside, discusses what research has found so far about the success of these restrictions, considers the impact that these restrictions are having on criminal justice management practices and sex offender treatment regimens, and examines constitutional implications.”
  • Residential Proximity & Sex Offense Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007)
    “In an effort to curb the incidence of sexual recidivism, state and local governments across the country have passed residency restriction laws. Designed to enhance public safety by protecting children, residency restrictions prohibit sex offenders and, in particular, child molesters from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of a school, park, playground or other location where children are known to congregate. Given that existing research has yet to fully investigate whether housing restrictions reduce sexual recidivism, the present study examines the potential deterrent effect of residency restrictions by analyzing the sexual reoffense patterns of the 224 recidivists released between 1990 and 2002 who were reincarcerated for a sex crime prior to 2006.” See also Sex Offender Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007).
  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions (Report to the Florida Legislature 2005)
    “Sexual violence is a serious social problem and policy-makers continue to wrestle with how to best address the public’s concerns about sex offenders. Recent initiatives have included social policies that are designed to prevent sexual abuse by restricting where convicted sex offenders can live, often called “sex offender zoning laws,” or “exclusionary zones.” As these social policies become more popular, lawmakers and citizens should question whether such policies are evidence-based in their development and implementation, and whether such policies are cost-efficient and effective in reaching their stated goals.”
  • Statement On Sex Offender Residency Restrictions In Iowa (ICAA 2006)
    “The Iowa County Attorneys Association believes that the 2,000 foot residency restriction for persons who have been convicted of sex offenses involving minors does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measures.”


Facts and Fiction about Sex Offenders

May 24, 2010 Comments off

corrections.com:Facts and Fiction about Sex Offenders.

“The political outlash against sex offenders is immense, irrational, and hard for legislators to reverse.”
-Sarah Agudo in the Northwestern University Law Review, 2008

Myth: Sex offenders are dirty old strangers who steal kids from playgrounds

An Ohio prison intake report on sex offenders imprisoned in 1992 revealed that 2.2 percent of child molesters were strangers to their victims, and 89 percent of perpetrators had never been convicted before.

In their 1993 textbook, The Juvenile Sex Offender, Howard Barbaree and colleagues estimated that teenagers perpetrated 20 percent of all rapes and half of all child molestations.

A 2006 report for the Ohio Sentencing Commission said 93 percent of molestation victims were well known to their perpetrators, over half the offenders victimized close relatives, and 93 percent of molesters had never been arrested for a previous sex crime.

A December 2009 study by David Finkelhor of UNH and colleagues for the US Justice Department analyzed national sex crime data from 2004. That year the estimated population of underage sex offenders was 89,000, and they had committed 35.8 percent of all sex crimes reported to police. One in eight juvenile sex offenders was under age 12. The study said that between 85 and 95 percent of young offenders would never face another sex charge.

Myth: Residency restrictions are harmless to sex offenders and protect kids

A 2005 survey of 135 Florida sex offenders by researchers Jill Levenson and Leo Cotter found that residency restrictions had forced 22 percent of this group to move out of homes they already owned. 25 percent were unable to return to their homes after release from prison. Respondents agreed in varying degrees with these statements about the impact of residency restrictions on their lives:

* I cannot live with supportive family members. 30%
* I find it difficult to find affordable housing. 57%
* I have suffered financially. 48%
* I have suffered emotionally. 60%
* I have had to move out of an apartment that I rented. 28%

The Iowa County Attorneys Association issued a position paper in 2006 opposing a 2,000 foot residency restriction against sex offenders from places where kids congregate. Among many criticisms, the prosecutors said, “Law enforcement has observed that the residency restriction is causing offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new locations, to register false addresses or to simply disappear. If they do not register, law enforcement and the public do not know where they are living. The resulting damage to the reliability of the sex offender registry does not serve the interests of public safety.”

A 2007 report by the Minnesota Department of Corrections tracked 224 sex offenders released from prison between 1999 and 2002 who committed new sex crimes prior to 2006. The first contact between victim and offender never happened near a school, daycare center or other place where children congregate. The report concluded, “Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law.” The study warned that these laws isolate offenders in rural areas with little social and treatment support, with poor transportation access and with few job opportunities. The resulting increase in homelessness makes them harder to track and supervise. “Rather than lowering sexual recidivism,” the report said, “housing restrictions may work against this goal by fostering conditions that exacerbate sex offenders’ reintegration into society.”

A position paper on the current website of the Iowa Association of Social Workers says that concentrations of Iowa sex offenders are living in motels, trailer parks, interstate highway rest stops, parking lots and tents. The site notes many other unintended consequences:

* Families of offenders who attempt to remain together are effectively subjected to the same restrictions, meaning that they too are forced to move, and may have to leave jobs, de-link from community ties, and remove their children from schools and friends.
* Physically or mentally impaired offenders who depend on family for regular support are prevented from living with those on whom they rely for help.
* Threat of family disruption may leave victims of familial sexual abuse reluctant to report the abuse to authorities, thereby undermining the intention of the law.
* Threat of being subjected to the residency restriction has led to a significant decrease in the number of offenders who, as part of the trial process, disclose their sexual offenses; consequently, fewer offenders are being held accountable for their actions.
* Loss of residential stability, disconnection from family, and social isolation run contrary to the “best practice” approaches for treatment of sex offenders and thus put offenders at higher risk of re-offense.
* No distinction is made between those offenders who pose a real risk to children and those who pose no known threat.

Myth: Treatment is a waste of money on sex offenders

The New Hampshire Prison sex offender treatment program compiled recidivism data in 1999 for a national survey by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lance Messenger, the New Hampshire program director at the time, reported a 6.2% sex crime re-arrest rate after an average of 4.8 years on parole for 204 men who completed the Intensive Sex Offender Treatment Program. The recidivism rate was 12.4% for 435 sex offenders who received no treatment and had spent an average of 8.6 years in the community. Messenger is now in private practice and recently told this writer his report did not constitute a rigorous scientific study.

A Colorado recidivism study in 2003 led by Kerry Lowden tracked 3338 sex offenders released from prison between 1993 and 2002. After three years in the community, 5.3 percent had been arrested for a new sex crime. Each month an inmate took part in the intensive therapeutic community for sex offenders behind the walls reduced by 1 percent his risk of committing a later sex crime. The report said these treatment programs “profoundly improve public safety as measured by officially recorded recidivism.”

Vermont corrections personnel tracked 195 adult male sex offenders over a six-year period ending in 2006. Those who completed sex offender treatment had a sex-offense recidivism rate of 5.4 percent.

Lorraine R. Reitzel and Joyce L. Carbonell published a meta-analysis in 2006 of nine studies of recidivism among juvenile sex offenders with a combined sample of 2,986 kids. The sex crime recidivism rate was 12.5 percent for young offenders tracked for an average of 59 months. The rate was 7.37 percent for kids who had taken a sex offender treatment program and 18.9 percent for those who had not.

Fact: Most types of sex offenders have low sex-crime recidivism

A report to the Ohio Sentencing Commission in 1989 said 8 percent of sex offenders were convicted of a new sex crime within a decade. The 10-year Ohio recidivism rate for incest was 7.4 percent.

A 1998 Canadian Government study by Karl Hanson and Monique Bussiere, entitled “Predicting Relapse: A meta-Analysis of Sexual Offender Recidivism Studies,” examined 61 research efforts between 1943 and 1995 with a combined sample of 28,972 sex offenders. The overall recidivism rate for new sex offenses was 13.4 percent during the average follow-up period of four to five years. Of the 9,603 child molesters in the combined cohort, the rate was 12.7 percent. Some of these studies dated back to the period when only stereotype serial sex offenders went to prison, thus weighting the results toward greater recidivism.

Roger Hood and three British colleagues followed 162 released sex offenders for four years and tracked 62 others for six years. Their report in 2002, entitled “Sex offenders emerging from long-term imprisonment; A Study of Their Long-term Reconviction Rates and of Parole Board Members’ Judgements of Their Risk,” found 1.2 percent were re-imprisoned for a new sex crime after two years. The report concluded, “These facts need to be more widely recognized and disseminated if there is to be rational debate on this emotive subject.”

A 2000 Iowa Corrections study tracked 233 sex offenders released in 1995 and 1996 under a new sex offender registry law. That group had a 3 percent sex crime recidivism rate after 4.3 years in the community. A similar control group of 201 sex offenders released before the registry law took effect had a 3.5 percent sex recidivism rate in the same length of time. The group supervised under the registry had a somewhat lower average recidivism risk score to begin with, and it had a higher proportion of people on probation as opposed to parole. The difference in recidivism rates was statistically insignificant.

A U.S. Justice Department report in 2003 tracked 9,691 sex offenders released from prisons in New York, California, Ohio and 12 other large states in 1994. Their recidivism rate for new sex arrests and convictions after three years on parole was 5.3 percent. 7.3 percent of child molesters with two or more prior arrests for that crime were charged anew for molesting. That compares with a 2.4 percent sexual recidivism rate for child molesters with only one prior arrest for that crime.

Karl Hanson and Andrew Harris published a 2004 report on 4,724 sex offenders in 10 Canadian and American samples ranging from 191 to 1,138 subjects. The average follow-up period was seven years after release. The overall sexual recidivism rates were 14 percent after five years, 20 percent after 10 years and 24 percent after 15 years. Incest offenders had corresponding rates of 6, 9 and 13 percent. Recidivism was defined as a new sex crime arrest or a new conviction. Counting only new convictions, the recidivism rates were generally half as high.

Karl Hanson and Morton-Bourgon published a similar meta-analysis in 2005 of 73 recidivism studies with a combined cohort of 19,267 sex offenders. After an average of nearly six years in the community they had a new sex crimes recidivism rate of 14.3 percent.

A 2005 report by Robert Barnoski of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy tracked the five-year sexual recidivism rates for 8,359 sex offenders released from Washington prisons between 1986 and 1999. Here are the results by year of release, showing the rate decreased over time.

Year
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992


5-Year Rate
6%
7.5%
7.5%
6%
7%
8%
6%


Year
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999


5-Year Rate
8%
6%
4.4%
3%
2%
3%
3.7%

A 2006 New York study analyzed the recidivism patterns for 19,827 sex offenders. The rate for new sex offenses after one year in the community was 2 percent. The cumulative rate increased to 3 percent after two years, 6 percent after five years, and 8 percent after 8 years.

A 2006 California study followed 93 adjudicated high-risk sexually violent predators released from civil commitment at the Atascadero State Hospital. Only 4.3 percent of these worst-of-the-worst offenders had committed new sex offenses after six years on the street.

A 2007 study by the Missouri Department of Corrections tracked 3,166 sex offenders released between 1990 and 2002. Twelve percent had been re-arrested for a new sex crime in those 12 years, and 10 percent had been reconvicted. The report also looked at sex offenders released in 2002. In the first three years on parole their sex crime recidivism rate was 3 percent. The report concluded, “Due to the dramatic decrease in sexual recidivism since the early 1990s, recent sexual re-offense rates have been very low, thus significantly limiting the extent to which sexual reoffending can be further reduced.”

An Alaska Judicial Council report in 2007 said 3 percent of sex offenders had committed a new sex crime in their first three years after release from prison.

A 2007 report by the Tennessee Department of Safety found that 4.7 percent of 504 sex offenders released from prison in 2001 were arrested for a new sex offense after three years. The sex crime recidivism rate was zero for offenders whose original crime was incest.

A 2007 Minnesota Department of Corrections study tracked 3,166 sex offenders released from Minnesota prisons between 1990 and 2002. After an average of 8.4 years in the community, 10 percent had been convicted of a new sex offense. Those released in the beginning of the study period were much more likely to reoffend within three years than those released later — 17 percent in 1990 as opposed to 3 percent in 2002.

A 2007 report by Jared Bauer of the West Virginia Division of Corrections tracked 325 sex offenders for three years after release from prison in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The recidivism rate for any return to prison, not just for sex crimes, was 9.5 percent. Only six parolees returned for new sex related crimes, including three for failing to properly register as a sex offender. The sex crime recidivism rate was slightly less than 2 percent. Only 1 percent had an actual sex crime victim.

A 2008 report by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tracked 4,280 sex offenders paroled in 2003. In the first year 2.43 percent had been arrested for new sex crimes. The cumulative totals were 3.27 percent at the end of the second year and 3.55 percent after three years.

A 2008 study by California’s Sex Offender Management Board reported on 4,204 sex offenders released in 1997 and 1998. 3.38 percent were convicted of new sex offenses in the next decade.

Utah criminologist Larry Bench tracked 389 Utah sex offenders for up to 25 years after release. His 2008 report disclosed that 7.2 percent had been arrested for a new sex crime.

An Indiana Corrections report in the spring of 2009 found that sex offenders released in 2005 had compiled a 1.05 percent sex crime re-conviction rate in three years. The study said this rate was “extremely low” and showed “a great deal of promise.”

Stan Orchowsky and Janice Iwama authored a 2009 study for the U.S. Justice Research and Statistics Association which showed similar low sex crime re-arrest rates after three years for sex offenders released from prison in 2001. The rates by state were as follows: Alaska 3.4%, Arizona 2.3%, Delaware 3.8%, Illinois 2.4%, Iowa 3.9%, New Mexico 1.8%, South Carolina 4.0%, and Utah 9.0%. The comparison three-year national rate was 5.3 percent noted previously for inmates released in 1994.