Residency Restrictions for Convicted Sex Offenders: A Popular Approach on Questionable Footing
New York Zoning and Planning Law Report, Vol. 9, No. 4, February 2009
12 Pages Posted: 1 May 2009 Last revised: 31 Jan 2014
Date Written: April 26, 2009
Municipalities across the country are adopting residency restrictions prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living in close proximity to places that children are likely to frequent. The number of sex offenders is large - by one report there are some 550,000 registered sex offenders nationally. As more and more local and state governments adopt residency restrictions, municipal lawyers and planners are increasingly finding themselves at the center of the debate. The literature and discussions in case law suggest that residency restrictions do not reduce recidivism, do not offer any real protection for potential victims, are generally not legally defensible, and thwart efforts to reform offenders and return them to society. This however, is ignored by the emotional demands of community residents to enact these laws to “protect vulnerable children” from convicted offenders. As a body is case law is starting to develop concerning these laws, it is becoming apparent that municipalities may have difficulty defending residency restrictions. This article provides a brief review of the literature and then discusses constitutional and statutory issues through an examination of recent caselaw.
Keywords: sex offenders, residency restrictions
JEL Classification: K11, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation