Margaret Troia


The fact of the matter is that residency laws often force all registered sex offenders to pay the price for a few high-profile cases and the public's fear and beliefs regarding sex offenders is often misguided and not well-founded. Sex offender residency laws may actually increase recidivism rates while placing unjustified burdens on sex offenders and their family members. Furthermore, because these laws target stranger perpetrators, they do not prevent the majority of sex crimes committed by acquaintances or family members of the victim. This results in parents being lulled into a false sense of security that their children are protected from these laws, when in fact they are not. Yet supporters of these laws maintain that prohibiting known child sex offenders from living near schools or similar facilities bears a reasonable relationship to protecting children since the amount of incidental contact and opportunity to commit crimes is reduced. However, no research shows any link between where sex offenders live and recidivism rates. Still, courts have unanimously upheld sex offender residency restriction against a variety of constitutional attacks. Despite criticisms and concerns, states continue to enforce and defend laws restricting where sex offenders may live even though these laws do not protect children effectively. Ohio is one state that restricts where sex offenders may live by prohibiting registered sex offenders from residing within 1000 feet of any school premises. Ohio's law applies to all registered sex offenders regardless of the crime's severity, whether or not the victim was a minor, or if the offender presents a future risk of danger. The statute applies even if the offender is not on parole or probation and often applies for the sex offender's entire life.