We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

The Use of Residency Restriction Laws for Managing Registered Sex Offenders: A Summary of Research

December 2011:

When “John” was an 18-year-old senior in high school he was arrested for the possession of child pornography. Upon his conviction a year and a half later, he was given a sentence of six months electronic monitoring, 200 hours of community service, and 2-1/2 years probation, which he served without incident or complaint.

Due to how Illinois classifies sex offenders, John must register for life and has the label of “Sexual Predator,” even though his crime was non-violent and he had no contact of any sort with the victim. Because roughly half of the offenses in Illinois fall under the sexual predator classification, over 49% of those on the sex offender registry are listed as sexual predators.

John continued to live at home with his parents while he was wearing the ankle monitor. About halfway through his electronic monitoring, he was informed that he had 30 days to move due to an in-home daycare located somewhere within 500 feet of his parents’ home. At age 20, John was forced to move away from the only home he ever lived in – and away from his family and support system.

John eventually moved across the state to attend college. However, unlike most college-aged students, John cannot return to his home during breaks because he has nowhere he can stay. (Under current Illinois law, any time an offender is away from his/her registered address for more than a total of three days during a year, he/she must register that address as an alternate; that address must not be within 500 feet of any of the restricted places.). He has missed holidays, birthdays, family get-togethers, and even being able to visit his grandmother when she was ill. He can’t even come home for a weekend visit and legally stay at the home he grew up in, not even for one night.

This scenario is just one of thousands being lived every day by registered sex offenders in Illinois. The residency restriction laws, enacted to protect society, have succeeded in splitting families apart. These laws prevent young men and women from seeing the people they need support from and care about the most. This is the cause of isolation, stress, and instability – all of which can contribute to a greater risk of re-offending.

Due to the stigma of being labeled a registered sex offender, many are unemployed. Because so many cannot live with their own families or friends, the parents take on the added expense of paying for a second household. In a time when families all over the state are struggling to keep afloat financially, these family members have the added burden of paying rent and living expenses for someone who, without residency restriction laws, could live at home.

To most, these are just “sex offenders.” To us, they are our children, our grandchildren, our siblings, our parents, our spouses, and our friends. We need our loved ones in our lives just as much as they need us. To us, they are just as important as any family member is to anyone else who cares about family. What these laws do is affect not only the offender, but also everyone who cares about them.

When these laws first started being passed, little was known about sex offenders and the effectiveness of the restrictions. Now, with over a decade of research, far more is known about what is effective and what is not when it comes to preventing future sexually based crimes. None of the research that has come out in the past decade supports the use of blanket residency restrictions as a means of reducing recidivism. What has been found, on the contrary, is that restricting where an offender lives, forcing them to move, and having the instability of very limited housing options actually increases the risk to society. Also increased is the burden on law enforcement and probation/parole who must spend time and resources tracking “missing” offenders or finding suitable housing.

In a discussion with an Illinois Senator about residency restriction laws, it was brought up that there are consequences for these peoples’ actions. This it true. The consequences are the sentences handed down by a Judge. However, once their sentence is served they should be allowed the same freedoms as any other former felon. No other class of criminal is treated the way our laws treat registered sex offenders.

For the remainder of this paper: by Illinois Voices for Reform


Anonymous said...

i am in total agreement with you.our laws has gone way to far and out of control.politions and the media has plagued our society with fear,passing more laws that are not called for or needed,distroying more families.these laws will affect the sons and daughters of these law makers and media personel.they will be the next generation of sex offenders.all because no one uses common sense.they think of only themselves.

Shana Rowan said...

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Shana Rowan said...

First time reading your blog, great stuff - adding you to my favorites. You may want to check out my blog as well, www.iloveasexoffender.blogspot.com.