A major focus of sex offender law in the last decade has been keeping offenders from living near schools, where they might find children to victimize. But a new study has found that some of the most dangerous sex offenders appear to flout these laws by moving closer to schools over time.
In research featured in the new book Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Technologies, geographer Alan Murray and his team tracked the movements of over 1,000 sex offenders in Hamilton County, Ohio, from 2005 to 2007. They found that sex offenders moved far more often than the general population — 65.2% of the offenders moved in the two-and-a-half-year period of the study, while only 13.6% of Americans moved in the year 2007. And when they move, a significant chunk of them move close to schools or other places they’re not supposed to live (it’s worth noting that the laws in Hamilton County aren’t so strict as to essentially bar offenders from living anywhere, which has been a concern in other areas).
The most dangerous class of offenders, designated as sexual predators, are also the most likely to move into these zones — 35.8% of them moved into school zones over the course of the study, while only 31.9% of less-dangerous “sexually-oriented offenders” did so. Some offenders already lived in school zones at the start of the study, even though they weren’t supposed to, and moved from one school zone to another, while others moved into school zones from elsewhere. These moves might cause problems for anyone hoping to track sex offenders’ whereabouts.
Murray et al write that their research reveals “a preference by offenders to reside in areas that have been deemed off limits by enacted residential laws.” Offenders might prefer to live in school zones because these areas also tend to have a high concentration of rehab and other facilities they might want to take advantage of. However, there’s a darker possibility: “This preference may also indicate strategic movements to areas with a ready supply of available targets.” That is, some sex offenders might be consciously staying near schools so they can prey on more kids.
The study authors note that new legislation increased efforts by law enforcement to keep sex offenders out of school zones did appear to have had an effect — but it didn’t come close to keeping all offenders out. They write, “despite these increasingly stringent laws, sex offenders move freely about communities and continue to reside in restricted residential areas.” Essentially, restrictions on where sex offenders can live aren’t necessarily keeping them away from kids, which might be giving both residents and lawmakers a false sense of security.
- dancer9040 thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is Ew
- elphonine thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is OMG
If you think you are not a criminal, think again. The number of things you may have done to land yourself on the SO registry include peeing in the wilderness in some states (and if they are required to register where they were, they are required to register here), “parking” with someone your age if you are under 16 (this is sexual assault on a child even if you were a child too, and there is NO statute of limitations in some jurisdictions on these offenses), and swatting a member of the opposite sex on the bottom. There are others just as egregious. The few I have mentioned here are just a sampling. As a coach, did you ever swat one of the team on the butt? You’re a sex offender. Did you ever restrain a child from beating up another child? You’ve “illegally restrained a minor” and in many jurisdictions, you’re a sex offender. I could go on, but you get the idea.
- salon.com readers just made Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... hotter
People who break the law need to be held accountable. Once they have completed that portion of their justice obligation, they should be completely free from the criminal justice system. That is what democratic societies do: live equally under the law. Let’s get away from this idiotic “pre-crime” BS and start living as responsible liberty minded people again.
- camillek3 Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s Old & Fail
- boman180 thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is WTF
- lovelyDay020891 thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is WTF
- Seraphica Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s Fail, WTF & Ew
- morgang4 thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is WTF
- Shinythings Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s Ew, OMG & WTF
- adriajeanl Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s Fail, WTF & Ew
- usernumberone thinks Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... is WTF
- JeonjuMike Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s Win
- NoraVH Despite Laws, Registered Sexual... and thinks it’s WTF