Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes.
While these beliefs may seem intuitively correct, they are predicated on several widely shared but nonetheless mistaken premises.
Sex offender laws are based on preventing the horrific crimes that inspired them-but the abduction, rape, and murder of a child by a stranger who is a previously convicted sex offender is a rare event.
Publicly accessible online registries should be eliminated, and community notification should be accomplished solely by law enforcement officials.
Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished. Proponents of sex offender registration and community notification believe they protect children in two ways: police have a list of likely suspects should a sex crime occur in the neighborhood in which a registered offender lives, and parents have information that will enable them to heighten their vigilance and to warn their children to stay away from particular people.
We are especially grateful to those who trusted us with very painful and personal stories.
Corinne Carey, former researcher for the US Program, undertook the original research for this report.