This study builds on existing research in examining the effectiveness of residency requirements in reducing sex offender recidivism in Missouri and Michigan, States that were among the first to implement state-wide residency restrictions for sex offenders.
In Michigan, sex offenders are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of school property and 500 feet from any licensed daycare center. Missouri prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a public or private school up to the 12th grade or childcare facility which existed at the time the offender established his/her residency. In addition, sex offenders are prohibited from working or loitering within 500 feet of a school, childcare facility, or public park with playground equipment or a public swimming pool. Residency restriction policies in both States are universally applied to all registered sex offenders. The current study had three primary goals. First, document the residency locations of sex offenders and non-sex offenders before and after the implementation of the residency restriction laws. Second, examine the change in recidivism patterns before and after the implementation of residency restrictions. Third, describe the collateral consequences of residency restrictions. The study found a decline in the number of registered sex offenders living in restricted areas, including near schools or daycare centers, but the differences were not statistically significant. The study also determined that sex offenders, especially child molesters, moved more often relative to comparable non-sex offenders after the implementation of residency restrictions; those living at addresses within the boundary zones surrounding schools and daycare centers tended to live in more disadvantaged areas. Regarding the impact of residency restrictions on recidivism, the relationship was small. The study recommends reconsidering the universal application of sex offender residency restrictions, an increase in housing services for sex offenders, and the development of reentry programming specific to sex offender populations. 22 tables and 139 references