Expert: Florida’s Sex Offender Residency Law May Be Ineffective


Florida’s restrictions on where sex offenders can live might be both ineffective and endangering the public, a legislative analyst says. The Miami Herald reports that Marti Harkness, a criminal-justice analyst, told the House Public Safety & Domestic Security Committee that studies from Florida, Minnesota and Colorado showed almost no link between a sex offender’s residency and the crime he committed.

But onerous residency restrictions increase the chances that offenders will be homeless, hard to track and more likely to commit new crimes, said Harkness, who works for the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. “I’m not suggesting we should feel sorry for them,” Harkness said. “But I guess what I am saying is that research shows that to prevent a sex offender from living with their families or [to make them live] farther away from work or treatment because of residency restrictions, you may actually in fact diminish public safety.”

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