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MN- Residential Proximity & Sex Offense Recidivism in Minnesota

April 2007 Minnesota:

Executive Summary:
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.

In order to determine whether the 224 cases might have been affected by residency restrictions, four basic criteria were used.

1. Because housing restrictions are geared primarily towards deterring sex offenders—namely, child molesters—from initiating contact with potential victims, offenders had to establish direct contact with the victims, as opposed to gaining access to their victims through another person they know such as a significant other (e.g. wife, fiancĂ©e, girlfriend, etc.), friend, co-worker, or acquaintance.

2. The contact had to have occurred within at least one mile of the offender’s residence at the time of the offense.

3. The first contact location had to have been near a school, park, daycare center, or other prohibited area.

4. The victim had to have been under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.

Data on the most recent sex offense for the 224 recidivists were derived from the criminal complaint, the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report, the Statewide Supervision (SSS) database, and the Minnesota Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Correctional Operations Management System (COMS) database.

Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law. Only 79 (35 percent) of the cases involved offenders who established direct contact with their victims. Of these, 28 initiated victim contact within one mile of their own residence, 21 within 0.5 miles (2,500 feet), and 16 within 0.2 miles (1,000 feet). A juvenile was the victim in 16 of the 28 cases.

But none of the 16 cases involved offenders who established victim contact near a school, park, or other prohibited area. Instead, the 16 offenders typically used a ruse to gain access to their victims, who were most often their neighbors. ..Source.. by Minnesota Department of Corrections

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