Facts to point out in discussions regarding sex offenders
Residence restrictions talking points
o Residence restrictions have not been shown to be effective in
reducing recidivism, preventing sex crimes, protecting children, or
increasing public safety.
o There is no empirical relationship between proximity to schools
and sex offense recidivism (Levenson, Zandbergen & Hart 2008).
o Residential restrictions greatly diminish housing availability
(Zandbergen & Hart 2006), increasing homelessness and transience,
interfering with tracking and supervision, and undermining the purpose
o Decades of criminological research have shown that stable
employment, housing, and social support are important factors in
facilitating successful community re-entry for offenders and reducing
recidivism. Policies that interfere with successful reintegration are
not likely to serve the interest of public safety.
o The vast majority (over 90%) of child sexual abuse victims are
molested by friends or family members (US DOJ), not strangers lurking
in schoolyards. Sexually motivated child abductions are very rare
events (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children).
o Sex offense recidivism rates are much lower than commonly
believed. Although some sex offenders do repeat their crimes, the
majority do not.
o 5.3% — U.S. DOJ, 3 year follow-up, 9,691 U.S. offenders
o 14% — Solicitor General’s Office of Canada, 6 year follow-up, international sample of over 20,000 sex offenders
o Advancements in research allow us to assess risk and determine
which offenders are most likely to repeat their crimes. These
procedures are universally accepted across North America and Europe.
They are used in Florida’s Jimmy Ryce Act to identify and detain the
most dangerous sex offenders in Florida. Research has consistently
determined that molesters of boys and rapists of adult women are at
highest risk, and that incestuous offenders have very low reoffense
Recommendations for evidence based policy:
o Before passing proposed legislation, more data should be
collected to determine whether residential exclusion zones result in
decreased sex offense recidivism.
o Policies that exacerbate factors (e.g. unemployment,
instability, lack of positive social support) known to be associated
with increased risk for recidivism are not likely to be effective in
o Loitering zones should be strongly considered as an alternative
to residence restrictions. 24 hour loitering zones are a feasible
alternative to residence restrictions and are more likely to accomplish
intended goals of public protection. Some jurisdictions, such as
Hillsborough County, elected not to enact municipal residence
restrictions but instead chose to create loitering zones. Instead of
regulating only where sex offenders sleep at night as residence
restrictions do, loitering zones actually keep sex offenders from
frequenting places where they can cultivate relationships with children.