Free-Range Kids

Sex Offenders Can't Live Within 300 Feet of a School. New Law Says That's Way Too Close.

Think of the children!

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A new law in Rhode Island will make sex offenders living at least 300 feet away from a school keep moving until they are at least 1000 feet from a school. They have 30 days to uproot their lives. Guess who thinks this will make children safer?

Practically no one, as it turns out. According to The Providence Journal:

Remarkably, law enforcers, civil-rights advocates, supporters of victims of sexual assault and experts who study sex-offender management say the expanded ban could actually decrease public safety by forcing offenders to move frequently or become homeless, destabilizing their lives.

Not only is it hard for anyone to uproot themselves and find a new place to live in a single month, the new restrictions on where offenders can live make it very difficult to find a suitable area of town.

This could be justified, if residency restrictions actually made kids safer. But:

Jill S. Levenson, an associate professor of social work at Barry University in Miami and an expert on the impact of laws like Rhode Island's 1,000-foot ban, said there's no evidence that residence-restriction laws improve public safety.

"The laws are passed with good intentions. It seems like it makes sense: if they're not living close to where children are, they'll have less likelihood to form a relationship and be tempted," said Levenson,

"The irony is," she said, "in some ways it exacerbates factors that contribute to risk."

As Shelly Stow writes on her blog, With Justice for All:

Most of Providence's affected registered citizens have lived, quietly and offense-free, in their neighborhoods for years. Some own their homes. Many are senior citizens. A few have found other places to live. The majority are bewildered, facing homelessness and hopelessness. As one said, " 'The state has got to stop punishing us. We've paid for our crimes. What's next?' "

That is an excellent question.

Here's another question: Why do we let fear and hate determine our laws? According to The Journal:

Joseph M. McNamara, a Warwick state representative who chairs the state Democratic Party… and drove the amendment through the General Assembly, said he did so because "parents were panicking" when a sex offender moved into an apartment building 400 feet from a Warwick elementary school — and another moved into McNamara's neighborhood in a home 800 feet from an elementary school.

Both offenders were complying with state law, but McNamara felt they were too close for comfort. "Being a retired school administrator, when you have a school community in a panic over these situations and children who believe they are going to an area that is insecure, it's not conducive to education."

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So, here's a radical idea: How about trying to reverse the panic with facts instead of giving in to it? While most people seem to believe that anyone labeled a "sex offender" is compelled to pounce on the next kid he sees, the facts show otherwise:

Levenson, who has studied the impact of residency restrictions in Florida and co-authored books about sex-offender treatment, said the laws are often passed out of fear and panic of sex offenders snatching children off playgrounds. In reality, most victims are known to the offenders [not strangers].

She co-authored a study into a 2,500-foot rule in Jacksonville, Florida, that concluded there was no significant differences in citywide sex crimes or recidivist sex crimes.

Actual research shows that these laws do very little good. But the bill passed the House 71 to 2—kudos to nay-voters Reps. Joseph Almeida (D) and Edith Ajello (D)—and the Senate 37 to 0. Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed it into law in July.

For the children.

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  1. Isn’t Rhode Island only 300 feet wide?

    1. No it’w wider than that but most of it is Naragansett Bay, the strips of land on either side of the bay that make up Rhode Island aren’t much bigger than that.

      And of course with all the schools of fish in the bay it’s not even like they could move to an island

      1. I trout even you think that’s very tunny.

        1. Not funny, but finny.

          1. Best he could do with writers only making scale.

            1. You guys fell for it hook, line and sinker.

              1. If there was any justice, these politicians would be put in their place, but it’s R.I. They’ll skate.

  2. I try to commit all my crimes in my front yard. It’s just so taxing to go more than a hundred yards to do horrendous acts.

    1. So what happens happens if some school admin sees you pissing on your front lawn 301 feet away from the school?!

      1. Isn’t that just how people water their lawns in Florida?

        1. It has what my lawn craves.

        2. I don’t think you have to actually water lawns in Florida.

          1. The water comes up from the sinkholes.

      2. Go piss on a school playground. I dare you.

        1. I went to school with a special needs kid who did just that. Just dropped his pants and everything down to the ground and let it fly right in the middle of the playground by the monkey bars. And nothing else happened.

          1. I have a friend who is on a list now. And he pissed at 1am on a Saturday.

            1. That’s awful. I can’t believe that’s all it takes to get on the naughty list.

    2. Whatever you say, Senator Goat-slayer.

      1. My parents have goats. I had to shoot one that ruptured it’s uterus during labor.

        1. One day, I hope you find the courage to tell us how you really ruptured the goat’s uterus.

          1. But that day is not today!

    3. I too like to shit where I eat.

  3. Joseph M. McNamara is a slaving piece of shit who deserves to suffer for many years. And every single legislator who voted for this out of fear should be ashamed.

    1. Only two legislators, both from Providence, voiced opposition and questioned the impact on public safety. In a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Joseph Almeida, who represents the city’s South Side and Washington Park, asked what would happen to offenders who own homes. There was no answer. Rep. Edith Ajello, whose district includes part of the East Side, asked if any maps showed where offenders could live. There weren’t.

      Joseph McNamara, please report to the courtesy woodchipper.

    2. When the boundaries expanded to 1,000 feet, all of the homeless shelters in the state except for Harrington Hall in Cranston became off-limits to Level III sex offenders. And Harrington Hall has limits on how many sex offenders it will accept.

      One homeless shelter in the entire state is now allowed for these people.

      And Joseph McNamara still lives in a home he pays for with stolen money.

  4. How small are the schools? Aren’t they surrounded by football fields? 300 feet from a school would be no problem in TX. Just stay off the practice fields.

    1. The headline is misleading and they must live at least 1,000 feet from a school starting in a month. 300 feet is the previous law. But I have to assume the distance includes the whole campus.

      1. Why? Isn’t it illegal for persons under the age of 18 to be unsupervised at any time?

        More seriously, fuck these people with a rusty chainsaw. Its not like sex offenders are renting rape houses right next to elementary schools. That’s what the free candy vans are for.

        1. I mean, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is based on a fear of kids getting snatched off playgrounds, not out of classrooms.

          1. Why? Are they not supervised there? This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. I’ll abduct my own kid, cause a big scene and then sue the fuck out of the school district.

          2. I mean, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is based on a fear of kids getting snatched off playgrounds, not out of classrooms.

            Which may be misguided. Over the last couple of years almost all of the “adult messing with a child” cases reported on the San Antonio news involved people working for schools. The others were cops.

            If we just kept teachers and administrators 1000 feet from schools, it would solve so many problems.

        2. “It’s not a rape van! It’s a spy van!”

          1. Do you have secret decoder rings?

      2. Yes, not just the school building but the school grounds.

        1. I’d go as far as to say any property owned or under the control of the school.

          1. Probably that, too, but I would hope that the courts would not apply that to things like schoolbus garages and other school board property located away from actual schools where no actual children are present.

            1. The MBUSD is the largest landholder in my city. They lease parkland to the city for $1 a year. Last I heard, the park is included as a school under current law.

              1. IIRC, those laws often include parks “and other places where children congregate” already.

                But, yeah, a school district with that that much property that they don’t need is another sort of problem.

        2. It was a joke about Texas and football! Like the Texans this year only funny!

          1. Or UT. God, do they stink. More like Charlie Weak, amirite? I though Mack Brown traded a bunch of late-folding trams. Charlie’s teams just fail early and often.

            1. How about those Cal Bears?!?

              Scholars, athletes, and gentlemen!

              1. Thank God we don’t play TAMU until at least 2019. All that’s left to me is a faint hope that the school I got a degree from doesn’t lose to Clemson AND Florida. Maybe the QB can learn the offense in teo more weeks.

                1. Maybe the QB can learn the offense in teo more weeks.

                  Manti he will!

  5. Why were these sickos even let out of prison to begin with? What makes them think they are entitled to a normal life after whatever horrendous act got them on the naughty list?

    1. Unfortunately, our beta Supreme Court thinks that indefinite detention without a life sentence violates some pussy amendment.

      1. Beta Supreme? Could that even be a thing?

        In any case, what a bunch of fags. If they were real men they just make it legal to kill these sexual predators.

    2. Live your normal life far away from my neighborhood!!11!!!!11

    3. Most sex offendors were caught pissing in public. Some were 17 year olds having sex with 16 year olds. Two 16 year olds were arrested for sending each other naught pictures (child porn!) and charged as adults.

      1. And don’t forget the significant number of sex offenders who were men having sex with other men in public. Apparently that used to be a huge thing several decades ago, and a lot of those men were (outwardly) living normal lives as straight, married men but regularly had anonymous sex with other guys on the DL.

        1. guys on the DL.

          Ableist!

  6. So, here’s a radical idea: How about trying to reverse the panic with facts instead of giving in to it?

    Uh…does that get you votes? Huh? Incentives, incentives, incentives.

    1. Don’t miss the fact that actually, McNamara was just panicking himself, because a nasty nasty sex offender moved into his neighborhood!

      1. Don’t be obtuse. He was angling for his own vote. As you can see, it worked.

        1. angling for his own vote

          We get it, Epi. You can suck your own dick.

          1. Don’t be envious, my son. With hard work, one day you may be able to as well.

            1. So…Sensei….taking on any new students?

              Asking for, uh, a friend.

              1. You might also have to donate a rib or 2.

      2. I had one live right across the street from me. Given that he was legally blind and asthmatic, I wasn’t too worried about healthy children playing outside could avoid him. That and my understanding from the neighbor who informed me was that he got popped looking at underage but pubescent girls online. Not exactly the same as abducting and raping little kids.

        1. I really don’t give a fuck what people jerk it to on their computers. In fact, I’d rather not know.

          1. STEVE SMITH NOT NEED COMPUTER! BREAK TOO EASY WHEN RAPED.

        2. Braille porn? That guy must have great hand… uh, hand coordination.

        3. So you really CAN go blind that way.

  7. I thought once you “paid your debt to society,” (prison time) that was it? Or is there some special lifelong debt that sex offenders incur?

    1. Every felon lives the rest of their life after prison with serious restrictions on their liberty: no guns and no voting, for starters.

      1. Unless its an election year in Florida. Fuck it, let ’em all vote! At least Charlie Crist was that way.

      2. Well, not every felon. Here in Virginia it’s pretty routine for felons to get their voting rights restored, because of disproportionate influence and all. Also gun rights unless it was a violent crime. They’re trying to make some of those restorations mandatory.

    2. All debts accumulate interest. The interest on society’s debt accumulates faster than it could ever be paid off.

      1. Hmmm. So could I do some prison time instead of paying off my student loan debt?

        *lights jesse.in.mb signal*

        1. If you’re comfortable with people looking down on you and believing you’re a criminal for the rest of your life, which may be nothing new, then I say go for it.

          1. If you’re comfortable with people looking down on you and believing you’re a criminal for the rest of your life, which may be nothing new, then I say go for it.

            That is called ‘being a Dodgers fan’.

            1. Hey, all Giants fans deserve death. Why is that so hard to understand?

  8. So, here’s a radical idea: How about trying to reverse the panic with facts instead of giving in to it?

    Good luck with that, Ms. Skenazy, because the thing about panic is that it’s inherently irrational. People who are given to panic are the last sorts who are moved by rational suasion. And there’s also the social pressure on parents by other parents (mostly the mothers, honestly) to avoid being labelled a bad or uncaring parent, so it’s truly a race to the bottom as far as rights are concerned.

  9. Semi-OT, but prompted by something Sparky said upthread: Derpbook progs were cheerleading for the french mob that tore the clothes off of an Air France executive for some type of unspecified economic crimes. Actually cheering mob violence and vigilante justice.

    1. They were merely showing their tolerance.

    2. Lafayette is rolling over in his catacomb.

    3. Everyone is entitled to a job. Anyone who denies this basic right deserves to be beaten or killed.

      1. Oh, a job. 1st reading I thought you’d written, “Everyone is entitled to a mob.”

    4. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer airline.

    5. The mob is the hero the french deserve but not the one that they need.

  10. You know how you can tell Joseph McNamara is an even bigger piece of shit than average? The cops hate this new law. But the corrections officers love it.

  11. I’m still not getting how this *isn’t* an ex post facto law.

    At the time of the offense, the law said if you’re convicted, stay 500 feet away from schools, right? OK, then, they got sentenced based on that.

    Now the legislature goes back and increases the sentence?

    Why not have them increase the term of imprisonment, too?

    1. IIUC, the logic of several court cases upholding retroactive application of sex offender laws (e.g., Smith v. Doe) is that they are “not punitive”.

      Some other cases have held that particular laws and restrictions rise to the level that they are punitive, and hence unconstitutional ex post facto laws.

      The problem here, of course, is the 30-day period to take effect; if someone cannot rapidly get a preliminary injunction, the damage is already done even if they can get it ruled unconstitutional.

      1. I heard about the decisions that it wasn’t punitive.

        I suppose it’s what you call the FYTW clause.

        The courts use that clause a lot.

    2. I’m still not getting how this *isn’t* an ex post facto law.

      Oh, it totally was. But the real answer is, as always, “fuck you, that’s why.”

      And nobody wants to stand up for those icky sex offenders. Certainly no man wants to face the seething hysteria of the mother of his children.

      1. Certainly no man wants to face the seething hysteria of the mother of his children.

        So…I should continue the Ban Moms campaign?

        1. Please do. You know you have my support.

        2. Does your mom know about the campaign?

          1. Of course she does.

      2. As I tell my wife: fingerprint the boys if you like. Understand that they only use those to identify bodies. It won’t make them safer.

    3. Because it does not make you a criminal for an act committed before the law was passed.

      (Note that “cannot live within X feet of Y” is not their “sentence” – it’s a legal requirement following from the fact of being convicted.

      Their sentence could have been anything from probation to prison time.

      The legislature can’t retroactively add to a sentence, though it can reduce it.

      But the legislature can change things that are not sentences.

      It’s fair to say that such conditions might themselves be on shaky legal ground, but they’re not ex post facto laws.)

    4. Police power, not punishment. Still much arbitrariness.

  12. I’m guessing this law is even worse than advertised. I know that here in MA for example, , the school-zone drug laws, which automatically lengthen any sentence for drug offenses conducted within 1,000 feet of a school, have a far more expansive definition of school than commonly supposed. Church with child care? Check. Day care in a private residence? Check. Plus, it includes playgrounds off school property, such as those in public parks. In most cities, you’re hard pressed to ever be outside of a so-called school zone.

    Feature, not bug, obviously.

    1. I don’t think those are classified as school zones so much as the law applies both to school property and “other places where children regularly congregate.” So, playgrounds (private or public, libraries, churches (already explicitly included in many of those laws), etc.

      1. The churches and day cares, as far as I know, are included in the definition of school. You’re correct on the other locations, but my larger point is simply that while such laws are labeled and sold as school zone laws, their actual wording can goes far beyond that simple descriptor.

        1. The Providence Journal story goes into this. Daycares are still okay to leave near, unless/until they start up pre-K programs. The rules seem pretty dumb even considering the source.

  13. if they’re not living close to where children are

    Yeah, because driving or god-forbid walking 1000 feet is hard.

    1. Walking that 1000 feet gives them more time to get hard.

      1. Going back on the bloody clown suit will get you caught every time.

    2. They can’t walk very far without getting tired out – given all the heavy rape equipment they’re carrying.

  14. good intentions

    Magic words!!!!

    This article doesn’t even mention the large number of so-called sex offenders who were teenagers having sex or exchanging boobie/dick pics with other teenagers. Hardly the lurking predators the panic-mongers like to say they are.

  15. and remember, most of the sex offenses were of the “pissing in an alley behind a tavern” variety which means they were already thousands of feet away from children.

    1. That’s probably not true in this specific case because only “level III” sex offenders are affected by the 1,000-foot rule. Levels I and II can still live 300 ft from schools. That’s not to say that anywhere near all level III offenders assaulted children, of course, but they aren’t just indecent exposure cases.

      1. It’s good to see that at least it’s more granular than just “sex offenders”.

        Though I don’t see why the “non-sexual indecent exposure” or “teen sexting” people should be restricted in any way at all…

  16. Thanks to zoning laws this makes people homeless. It’s not like they allow housing to be built in an industrial park, where there is little likelihood of a school being built. And thanks to drug panics, all the SRO’s have been closed.

    The only thing sicker than a kiddie diddler is a government employee.

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