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Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished. Proponents of sex offender registration and community notification believe they protect children in two ways: police have a list of likely suspects should a sex crime occur in the neighborhood in which a registered offender lives, and parents have information that will enable them to heighten their vigilance and to warn their children to stay away from particular people.
Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes.
Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them.
In addition, sex offender laws are predicated on the widespread assumption that most people convicted of sex offenses will continue to commit such crimes if given the opportunity.
Sex offender laws are based on preventing the horrific crimes that inspired them-but the abduction, rape, and murder of a child by a stranger who is a previously convicted sex offender is a rare event.
The laws offer scant protection for children from the serious risk of sexual abuse that they face from family members or acquaintances.
But the high recidivism rates I assumed to be true do not exist.
It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into.