Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WI - Sex offender registry restrictions not working

Sex offender laws are flawedOriginal Article


By Shana Rowan

The Sheboygan Press Nov. 2 article on Sheboygan’s sex offender ordinance did an excellent job of examining residency laws from various perspectives. As an advocate for evidence-based sex offender policies and fiance to a registrant whose crime was committed as a minor, I applaud the paper’s integrity.

As discussed in the article, years of research on residency restrictions have found no evidence that they reduce sexual recidivism or prevent new crimes. At best, Sheboygan's ordinance has done nothing to influence recidivism one way or another. At worst, however, it has been counter-productive to public safety. The ordinance does not target those who pose the most risk to commit child sexual abuse (95 percent of all child victims are abused by a family member, friend or acquaintance.)

It also doesn't target registrants who cannot find housing due to the ordinance, and have violated it by not reporting an accurate address, or have become homeless or transient. Law enforcement, departments of correction, treatment providers to both victims and offenders, and public policy researchers have all denounced residency laws as well-intentioned but detrimental to society.

Why do city council members believe they somehow know better? Research on sex offender laws is extremely accessible and the public must begin educating itself rather than relying on lawmakers to deliver the truth, since “it’s working” is clearly a subjective assessment.

Shana Rowan
Executive Director

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