“Get real on sex offender rules.” So editorializes the Cincinnati Enquirer, citing a ruling yesterday by the Ohio Supreme Court saying a 2003 law barring convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools could not be applied retroactively. The case may allow thousands of sex offenders to return to their homes, but it is unlikely to have an impact on the safety of public, says the paper. Forcing an offender who has served a sentence to later uproot himself and move beyond an arbitrary boundary line destabilizes the person’s life, while doing nothing to protect society, the Enquirer says.
Distance restrictions offer no real restraint. Requiring a sex offender to make his home at least 1,000 feet from a school does nothing to keep that same person from loitering across the street from the school all day long. Such laws have several flaws, including treating most types of sex offenders as being equally dangerous. The laws have proliferated in states and local communities in response to a few horrific crimes committed by previously convicted sex offenders. There are more than 550,000 convicted sex offenders in the nation. The paper urges legislators “not to waste time writing a new, specifically retroactive restriction law, but to instead work out a sensible classification system and invest in programs that would require released offenders to undergo continuing treatment rather just move down the road.”