Authors: Jill Levenson
June 2008
Criminal Justice Studies
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Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the unintended consequences of policies that restrict where sex offenders can live. In Broward County, FL, 109 sex offenders were surveyed regarding the psychosocial, economic, and practical impact of such laws on their daily lives. Results revealed that sex offenders subjected to residence restrictions reported decreased housing availability, increased homelessness and transience, and financial hardship. Residence restrictions forced them to live farther away from employment opportunities, treatment services, and public transportation. Younger offenders were particularly impacted. Low risk offenders were affected equally to higher risk offenders. The vast majority reported that they did not believe that such laws prevent child sexual abuse or assist sex offenders with risk management. The implications of the findings are discussed, including the potential for these laws to create psychosocial stressors that increase risk for recidivism, and to interfere with effective monitoring and supervision of sex offenders. Alternative community protection strategies are recommended.
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