Rethinking the 2,000 feet

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Reversing a well-intentioned, but poorly thought - out course on an emotionally charged issue can be difficult for politicians.

Not many holders of elective office want to be seen as soft on sex offenders by eliminating a requirement enacted this year that convicted sex offenders may not live within 2,000 feet of schools and day care centers.

But eliminating such a requirement is being advocated by groups representing police, prosecutors and victims. You wouldn't expect such groups to be soft on sex offenders. They aren't. They are just being practical.

The actual effect of the law has been to drive sex offenders underground. Fewer of the sex offenders are registering as required by law.

The opponents of the 2,000 foot ban also state that it gives a false sense of security. The residency restriction doesn't prevent sex abusers from being around schools and day care centers but merely bans them from living nearby.

Creating "child safe zones," beefing up victim advocacy and increased offender surveilance and treatment programs have been suggested as more effective approaches in dealing with the presence of sexual offenders in our communities.