Free-Range Kids

Harsher Sex Offender Restrictions Won't Make Anyone Safer

"Contrary to popular belief... registered sex offenders have one of the very lowest recidivism rates."

|

Chain gang
Patrick Denker / Wikimedia Commons

Steve Blow and Josh Gravens are two of my new heroes. I met them both when I went to Dallas three weeks ago to speak at the Reform Sex Offender Laws convention. Gravens is a sex offender who also spoke at the convention. I went with him to see what it's like to register and that became a story in itself.

Blow is a beloved columnist at The Dallas Morning News. He's a local institution. Last week, he wrote a column about me and Free Range Kids.

In his latest column, Blow talks to Gravens and explains why harsh laws restricting sex offenders' movements are unwise:

We've talked here lately about how our laws on sexual misconduct have gone badly overboard. And now the City Council looks at joining in.

In a briefing session last week, the council heard a proposal to impose residency restrictions on registered sex offenders — setting distances on how far they must live from parks and schools and such.

Josh, a Lake Highlands resident, was among those who spoke against the idea. He introduced his wife and five children.

Josh and I talked at length the next day. "It would be one thing if these residency restrictions had some proven safety benefit," he said. "But there is not one study that has found any benefit."

Don't take his word for it. Here's what the experts say: "Residence restrictions are simply not a feasible strategy for preventing child sexual abuse." That's from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

free-range-kids

Blow goes on to quote more experts who concur "that—contrary to popular belief—registered sex offenders have one of the very lowest recidivism rates."

Really, it is very hard to get anyone to believe that point, although all the evidence (as opposed to hearsay) I've seen reaches the same conclusion.

The evidence also concludes that 1) Residency restrictions don't make anyone safer, although they do make it very hard for sex offenders to live normal lives and hence gives them less incentive not to re-offend. And 2) Sex offender lists are teeming with people like Gravens who pose no actual threat to kids. As Blow concludes:

Evidence is mounting that our broad-brush approach to sex offenders is doing more harm than good. We mistakenly came to equate "sex offender" with "pedophile predator."

A tiny percentage truly fall into that second category. And they need close monitoring, which can be accomplished through better parole and probation oversight.

The rest pose little or no threat of re-offending. And we only increase that possibility by preventing them from working, from living in decent housing, from reuniting with family.

It may take a bit of courage, but if the Dallas City Council wants to make a decision based on evidence, it will stay off the hysteria bandwagon.

Amen.

NEXT: NATO: 'High Probability' Russia Will Invade Ukraine

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If somebody is truly dangerous to other members of the public and cannot be rehabilitated, they should remain in prison. If not, why should they have any more restrictions than any other person released on parole?

    1. Why do you hate the children?

      1. They tend to be sticky.

        1. *gigglesnort*

        2. You’re on the list!

        3. As Florence King said “To molest a child, one would have to be in the same room as the child, and I don’t see hoe Perverts can stand it.”

        4. Also selfish and noisy.

        5. You also can’t have adult conversations with them.

  2. Really smart people need to decide what consensual really means

    Look, we haven’t yet figured out what consensual sex is. So until then, at least put all men on a list as suspected rapists. It’s the least we can do. It would be better if we just put all men in prison today and leave them there until some really, really smart people figure out what consensual sex really is. For the children.

    The legislation initially stated that “if there is confusion as to whether a person has consented or continues to consent to sexual activity, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion can be clearly resolved.

    1. Look Hyperion it’s pretty easy Consensual means whatever the “victim” says it is. As long as the “victim” is not a white cisgendered male.

      1. Well, I guess that makes perfect sense. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

      2. I’m pretty sure that the priority is given to those born with ovaries. So cis-women, trans-men, trans-women, cis men. Not sure where persons not definitely belonging to a single sex/gender rate.

    2. Why is it such a fucking burden to expect people to say “no” when they don’t like what is happening?

      1. Because sometimes they are confused, as in the Jerome Kern song, “She Wouldn’t Say Yes,” and they need to be given until the next day (or week, or month) to decide if they really wanted to engage in sexual activity.

        That is, if they are female. If they are male, the law simply assumes that they not only wanted to engage in sexual activity, but that they actively intended to commit rape.

  3. Harsher Sex Offender Restrictions Won’t Make Anyone Safer

    Prosecutors, district attorneys, tuff-on-craim legislators, judges and court officers, parole officers, and of course police union reps would all disagree.

    1. All of their jobs are made more secure by increased restrictions on sex offenders.

  4. I don’t think they were designed too. As it is with most laws, they are designed to assuage the fears and insecurities of the screaming soccer moms across america.

    1. No, they are designed to ensure continued employment, by the public purse, of assorted job-seekers, parasites, and dolts. The do this by assuaging the fears and insecurities of etc. etc., but doing so is a means, not an end.

      1. It’s all a rich tapestry of idiocy an dspecial interests.

    2. I should clarify that in the most laws part that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and in this case it’s the screeching soccer moms. Women are not solely responsible for current state of affairs more likely just close to around 50% responsible.

      1. Proglotards, SoCons, soccer moms, and radical feminists all working in perfect harmony to install an Orwellian dystopia. We’re almost there, and the ones who worked so hard to get us there will be the ones screeching the loudest when they are also victims of what they so desired.

  5. Our society has descended into madness. Soon, all that will be left will look a lot like this:

    Riots after cops shoot unarmed teen

    1. This too shall pass, but the cops will get their revenge on every person pulled over for a rolling stop who didn’t roll their window down timely enough.

  6. The problem is in the definition of a sex offender. It should be an incredibly narrow definition for those convicted of violent sex crimes or pedophilia. Having sex with a 14 year old when you’re 20 isn’t a sex crime.

    1. Click on that link that I posted above. If the progs and radical feminists have their way, and they probably will, we will all be potential sex offenders soon enough.

    2. Likely in every state in the USA, anyone 20 having sex with another, 14, is statutory rape.

  7. Of course having a cousin whose next door neighbor’s god-uncle’s barber got nailed for whistling at a pretty woman is enough to get YOU on the sex offender registry, I would expect a low rate of “recurrence” because a huge % don’t belong on there in the first place.

    1. We have to have laws and regulations! And lists.. what, you want anarchy?

  8. Why don’t we just have them put down instead? I mean, if we’re going to treat them like dogs, why not play it out all the way?

    1. There’s no revenue or cronyism to be found in that.

      1. A new class of slaves owned by the government?

    2. We could just neuter/spay them.

      1. +1 Bob Barker

  9. I see this at very practical level. I couched a local little league baseball team this past spring. Not much of a background check is done there. A driver’s licence and just showing up is enough. The drill is to have enough dads and moms involved in the game to get the batting line up sorted out, play catcher, and to get the kids to play their position. I was never at a loss for volunteers.

    The AYSO (soccer) is another matter. They want to drill you up the ass with background checks before you come within 10′ of a little darling. And then they pummel you with email drives for volunteers because, for some reason of another, they are short.

    1. I couched a local little league baseball team this past spring

      Would you like to rephrase that?

      1. No, I am a man and misspelling words is what men do best. I show the boys how to throw a ball. Do it this way! No, with your right hand. But *you* didn’t. I am left-handed and you are not. But, but, but. Pay attention and stop acting like a girl. You can see how well the vetting works right there.

  10. “Residency restrictions … make it very hard for sex offenders to live normal lives…”

    ~ Lenore Skenazy

    And the children who get molested by these twisted pedos? What about defenseless, molested children and their inherent, natural right to live normal lives? What about their legal right never to have been molested and the legal duty for anyone not to molest?

    And the adult females who get raped by these warped rapists? What about raped women and their inherent, natural right to live normal lives? What about their legal right never to have been rape and the legal duty for anyone not to rape?

    Once again Reasonoids reveal themselves to be ReasonVOIDS.

    Maybe convicted pedos and rapists should be offered forced impotency in exchange for no longer being need to register as sex offenders. Maybe only a medical registry should exist to prohibit those taking any impotency deal from ever being repaired surgically or through drugs.

    A good many Americans would like to see pedos and rapists executed rather than merely burdening pedos and rapists with the bothersome chore of registering as sex offenders.

  11. If you want a deterrent, the death penalty deters the offender for sure.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.