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Never Going Home: Does It Make Us Safer? Does It Make Sense? Sex Offenders, Residency Restrictions, and Reforming Risk Management Law
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology Volume:97 Issue:1 Dated:Fall 2006 Pages:317 to 364
The analysis indicates that State residence restrictions on sex offenders have statistical, political, and constitutional problems. The author argues that uniformly applied residency restriction laws will most likely fail judicial scrutiny and are ineffective at preventing sex offender recidivism. Three main concerns with residency restrictions are identified as: (1) the laws are based on two flawed premises--that sex offenders target unknown children in their neighborhood and that sex offenders reoffend at higher rates than other felons; (2) they are a heavy tax burden on the government; and (3) they provoke two real estate crises--one in the already undesirable communities where sex offenders often end up living and one for low-income sex offenders themselves. Best practice methods for managing sex offender risk in the community are examined, including the use of risk assessment criteria to match post-release restrictions to prior acts and future risk; indeterminate sentencing; civil commitments; and sex offender reentry courts. The author proposes that a comprehensive risk management system that relies on a mix of methods and focuses most restrictions on the highest risk sex offenders is the most efficient and effective means of sex offender community management. During the past 5 years, 13 States have passed laws forbidding sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day care centers, and “places where children normally congregate.” Such laws even hold a sex offender in violation if at any point in the future one of the restricted uses, such as a day care center, were to be built within the proscribed number of feet from their current residence. Footnotes
Nicole Hetz Burrell ; Kim English
Community Corrections in Colorado: A Study of Program Outcomes and Recidivism, FY00-FY04
Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
This study evaluated the financial and program outcomes and the recidivism rate of 21,796 offenders who either successfully or unsuccessfully terminated from the community corrections system in Colorado between July 2000 and June 2004. Evaluation of financial outcomes indicated that offenders in halfway houses across Colorado earned over $115 million and paid over $36 million in room and board during fiscal year (FY) 2000 and FY 2004. Halfway house residents also paid over $2.6 million in State taxes and approximately $6.7 million in Federal taxes during the same period. Evaluation of program outcomes indicated that successful completion rates ranged between 39.6 percent and 72.8 percent across 30 halfway houses. Approximately 63 percent of offenders successfully completed their halfway house stay between FY 2000 and FY 2003. However, between FY 2003 and FY 2004, the successful completion rate dropped to 56 percent. Diversion clients had a 58.8 percent success rate between FY 2000 and FY 2003, while transition clients had a success rate of 67.2 percent for the same period. However, during FY 2004, the success rate dropped to 52.2 percent for diversion clients and dropped to 60.1 percent for transition clients. It is likely that FY 2003 State budget cuts directly affecting offenders played a significant role in the reduction of success rates. Offenders most likely to be successful in community corrections programs were older, employed, educated, and had lower criminal history scores. Recidivism rates, defined as a new misdemeanor or felony court filing within 12 and 24 months of successful program completion, were low. Of all offenders who successfully completed community corrections during the study period, 85 percent were crime-free after 12 months and 75 percent were crime-free after 24 months. The report offers 14 recommendations to improve community corrections in Colorado. Evaluation data were drawn from the Office of Community Corrections and from the Criminal Justice Analytic Support System. Figures, tables, footnotes, appendixes