RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS ON SEX OFFENDERS
It’s nearly over two decades since John Gravens found himself on the sex offender registry after playing with his sister in an inappropriate manner. Despite his sister forgiving him long ago, the incident may force him out of his home in Dallas.
In U.S. states laws have been made due to concerns about sexual predators. These laws have led to communities limiting where registered sex offenders will live. This law keeps them away from parks, schools or places where children might congregate.
Gravens, currently 29 and an advocate, spends most time courting Dallas City Council members. Tough laws adopted in the United States over the past two decades that have had the consequence of making many registered sex offenders homeless. There has been a backlash recently against such residency restrictions – with many courts turning them down.
In July, a report from the Department of Justice on dealing with sex offenders found that the evidence isn’t clear. There is no effectiveness on the residence restrictions and may expose the community to greater danger.
Residency bans rose from public sex offender registries, which requires those who served their sentence to update often for decades or life; their physical description, photograph, address and place of employment. Failure to do so means one subject to a felony arrest. Thousands of registrants committed offenses as minors.
Supporters say residency restrictions are meant to curb adult strangers roaming nearby to snatch child victims. But more than 90% of offenders who target children are known to the children’s family, and more than 30% of those offenders are minors themselves.
Parole officers stated that it was harder to monitor/supervise homeless parolees, and the Department announced it would no longer impose the restrictions from March.
Other residency bans continue to be approved by local politicians across the U.S. despite signs of changing attitudes, in Maine alone, the towns of Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach and Saco all passed 750-foot residency restrictions in the recent months.
But Gravens stated that he had hope that the public opinion is changing. He believes the tide is turning because of people coming out of the darkness and speaking about their experiences and saying they are just trying to get on with their lives.