Are Sex Offenders Allowed to Golf? They're Not Sure

Residency restrictions are so broad and confusing, sex offenders aren't sure where they are allowed to live.



Sex offenders in Illinois are challenging the state law that bans them from entering parks, schools, places providing services for kids, and even "holiday events involving children." The offenders say the rules are so vague that they can't always tell if or when they are breaking the law.

For instance, if a sex offender plays a round of golf on a municipal course—a solitary, adult activity—is that legal (because kids aren't around) or illegal (because it's on parks department land, and therefore a park)?

WBEZ, Chicago's NPR station, reports that the plaintiffs are arguing that the restrictions are so broad:

…it's impossible to know what is or isn't allowed and that means the laws violate the constitution. They're asking a federal judge to immediately suspend certain restrictions on every registered child sex offender in the state of Illinois.

The absurdities of the sex offender laws are readily apparent in another situation one of the plaintiffs is using as an example. He would like to visit his granddaughter, but she lives within 500 feet of her subdivision's playground. Is it legal for him to see her at her home?

State police told him he was allowed to visit as long as he walked straight from his car and back—but the local cops said he wasn't allowed to be there at all.

While a case like this shows that the law's interpretation is completely up for grabs, which is the plaintiff's whole point. It also shows the law is completely pointless, period. Study after study of sex offender residency restrictions has found that they do not make kids any safer. And the idea that an offender has to make a beeline between the door of a home and the door of a car just highlights the make-it-up-on-the-fly nature of the rule. If a sex offender walks over to examine the rose bush next door and then gets into his car, has he posed a threat?

Never mind the fact that when I spoke with Warren Maas, president of the Minnesota Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, a man who has treated sex offenders for decades, he said he'd never met one who had grabbed a child from the park, the very scenario that this whole restriction is premised upon.

Then there's the caveat that sex offenders can't "be present at or associated with a facility that provides services directed toward minors." Can they go to a hospital where there's a pediatric ward? Can they go to a library where there's a children's room?

These aren't just rhetorical questions. A person found guilty of violating any of the provisions of the registry risks going to prison as if he had committed not just a minor infraction but a new sex crime. Recall the case of Josh Gravens, who missed registering his new home address by a day and was facing a possible 25 years in prison for it.

With consequences that dire on the line, the rules should be clearer than clear.

And if they actually made any sense in terms of keeping the public safe rather than just punishing our modern-day pariahs, that would be nice, too.

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  1. The offenders say the rules are so vague that they can’t always tell if or when they are breaking the law

    So, the law is working as intended? Move along, nothing to see here.

    1. This, the sole point of sex offender registries is to make it impossible for those icky perverts to live in human society.

      The goal is to drive them either back into prison where they belong or out into the wilderness where they can spend their time learning rape techniques from Steve Smith

  2. If a sex offender walks over to examine the rose bush next door and then gets into his car, has he posed a threat?

    It depends on what the meaning of “rose bush” is.

    1. No one needs to inspect a rose bush. In fact, why does anyone need a rose bush that can then be examined by scofflaw perverts? Ban rose bushes!

  3. it’s impossible to know what is or isn’t allowed and that means the laws violate the constitution

    So pretty much all newer laws violate the constitution? Working as intended. Move along, nothing to see here. Who has time for this shit anyway when Hitler is running for president?

  4. As long as the children are being thinking of the children’d, we’re good.

  5. These people are going to lose this fight. Laws like these sex offender laws, which basically suspend a persons constitutional rights forever, potentially over something as innocent as 17 year olds ‘sexting’, are a statists dream come true. Sadly, I predict that a combination of laws like this and ‘secret’ lists, in combination, are going to basically be the end of constitutional law in the USA. And the sycophant left will stand and cheer their own descent into slavery.

    1. Sadly, I predict that a combination of laws like this and ‘secret’ lists, in combination, are going to basically be the end of constitutional law in the USA.

      That horse set the barn on fire before leaving it.

  6. I don’t want some perv on the golf course standing their washing his balls while decent people are trying to golf!

      1. I absolutely was thinking of that clip when I commented.

  7. Sloopy is still done with commenting but wanted me to say that sex offenders should be able to play golf if they want. And in fact, they could stop to molest a kid on every hole and still not be as much of a menace to the golfing community as a foursome of Korean women THAT TAKE SIX FUCKING HOURS TO PLAY EVEN IF THEY’RE ALL IN THEIR OWN CARTS!

    1. Somebody didn’t break 100 this weekend.

      1. He actually came home yesterday happy that he’d finally broken 80 at our new club.

        1. 80 seems very fast for a golf cart.

          1. That certainly makes it more challenging to hit the ball as you drive past.

    2. A real woman would have told him to stop being a bitchy baby and do it himself. This is just another sign that there really are no libertarian women.

    3. Well, you tell Sloopy that I’m not talking to him, either, so there!

  8. This article omits some relevant information, like how good a golfer the guy is.

    The better a golfer is, the more likely his, ah, eccentricities and little pecadilloes will be overlooked.

    1. It’s like filmmaking.

      If you directed Rosemary’s Baby you get to rape girls in bathtubs.

      If you’re Roger Corman, you better not so much as jaywalk.

  9. According to the NCMEC map there are over 851,870 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bate-n-switch internet stings and many others.

    Women Against Registry

  10. Read:
    The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics
    It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
    This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the actual facts.
    This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015.…

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