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Banishment of Sex Offenders: Liberty, Protectionism, Justice, and Alternatives


Shelley Ross Saxer


Pepperdine University School of Law

August 17, 2009

Washington University Law Review, Vol. 86, p. 1397, 2009
Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009/19

Abstract:     
Although most sex offenses are committed by relatives or acquaintances of the victims, our public policy approach has been to focus on the stranger sex offender and punish sex offenders through residency restrictions. These residency restrictions effectively banish these locally undesirable and dangerous individuals from our communities in fear that they may reoffend in our neighborhoods. Rather than being thrust into some wilderness, sex offenders are 'banished' to neighboring counties or states and into poor, minority neighborhoods where they often live in boarding houses with other sex offenders.

Banishing sex offenders through these residential restrictions impacts individual liberty, our national structure, and social policy considerations. This Article offers a legal analysis of the adverse impacts these restrictions impose on the constitutional rights of both sex offenders and our communities, which for economic or political limitations do not have the appropriate representation to mitigate these consequences. This Article also examines what methods from the environmental justice movement might be available to deal with the 'social justice' issue of sex offenders disproportionately burdening poor, minority communities. Finally, because there is not yet evidence to support the efficacy of residency restrictions on sex offender recidivism, this Article concludes that legislators should reexamine the current trend of using residency restrictions to address concerns about sex offender recidivism. Instead, public policy decision makers should look toward alternatives, such as individualized risk assessment and management of these individuals, so that public resources can be properly directed to confine, monitor, and treat those sex offenders most likely to commit serious reoffenses.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: sex offenders, residence, residency restriction, social policy, liberty, rights, protectionism, constitution, social justice, minority, poor, poverty, neighborhood, recidivism, risk assessment, risk management, monitor, treat, crime, sex crime, criminal, safety, sexual molestation, imprison

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Date posted: August 17, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Saxer, Shelley Ross, Banishment of Sex Offenders: Liberty, Protectionism, Justice, and Alternatives (August 17, 2009). Washington University Law Review, Vol. 86, p. 1397, 2009; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009/19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1456473

Contact Information

Shelley Ross Saxer (Contact Author)
Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
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