Original Article (PDF)
By Erin Miller
Draconian restrictions on the activities and privacy of convicted sex offenders are a new, and troublesome, trend. In 1994 and 2006, following a national dialogue about crimes against children sparked by several high-profile incidents, Congress passed two laws requiring states to register and regulate sex offenders residing within their borders. States and municipalities soon caught on, and deepened restrictions. In the last five years alone, local governments have forbidden sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of schools; “be” within 500 feet of parks or movie theaters; enter public libraries; drive buses or taxis; photograph or film minors; and use social networking websites like Facebook. Others have required sex offenders to advertise their status on driver’s licenses or social networking profiles; wear GPS bracelets at their own expense; notify local police when present in any county within the state for longer than ten days; provide notice to all new neighbors within a roughly quarter-mile radius when they move; and pay up to $100 annually to maintain sex offender registries. These burdens typically last for a decade or for life, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of crime committed.