The politicians love sex offender residency laws and over the past few years South Florida communities have outdone one another passing restrictions that bar sex offenders from living from within 2,000 or 2,500 feet of day care centers, schools, parks, even bus stops. The effect has been to stir up great public support with the notion that these laws protect children. Meanwhile, the laws are so restrictive that offenders have been forced into homelessness. In Miami, of course, sex offenders have famously been forced into a squalid camp beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
“It’s hard to imagine any other circumstance in which we, as a society, force people to become homeless,” Lynn University’s Jill Levenson told me. Yet studies by Levenson and other social scientists have found little scientific rationale for these laws. She and two colleagues completed an analysis in December that echoed the findings of several other studies of the residency law phenomenon that has swept the country. To read her study, click on Download Levenson study
Levenson’s partners in the recidivism study, Paul A. Zandbergen and Timothy C. Hart, partnered up two years ago to look at the impact on available housing for offenders affected by the residency laws. There study in the Orlando area reveals what has become painfully obvious in Miami. Download Zandbergen and Hart 2006