Sexual Offender Registries are lists that states use to keep track of persons convicted of certain sexual abuse offenses and crimes. States are required to maintain the registries by federal law.
What Is Listed in Sexual Offender Registries?
Although different states use different criteria, generally the lists include persons convicted of:
- Misdemeanor child sexual abuse
- Felony child sexual abuse and felony statutory rape
- Certain violent sexual crimes
Registries typically list the names, addresses where the offender lives, and in some states, the crimes which they committed. Offenders who are homeless are often not punished for failure to provide an address, though parole boards typically demand some kind of listing of residency, even if the location is “bridge behind Safeway store.”
Who Has Access to Sexual Offender Registries?
States must make the lists available to:
- The police
- The victims
- Persons or groups that get permission from a judge
Some states have passed laws making the lists available to the public, and in other states, the lists are available because all state records are open to the public. In some cases, states’ lists are available on-line.
What Are the Effects of Sexual Offender Registries?
The purpose of these lists is to provide families with information about persons who may be a danger to their children, based on those person’s past crimes.
Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and some convicted sexual offenders have challenged the state laws on a number of grounds:
- Invasion of privacy: the lists give the public sex offenders’ names and address
- Potential harassment: persons in sex offenders’ communities may drive them out
- Stigma: makes sexual offenders’ past crimes readily known to the public
Most state courts, however, have held that the public’s interest in protecting the safety of its members outweighs any negative impact on sex offenders’ interests.
What Restrictions Do Registered Sexual Offenders Face?
Registered sex offenders who have been to prison have the same restrictions as other people on parole. In addition, those on the registry are barred from living, working or approaching locations children may frequent: schools, parks, stadiums, churches and other places. Restrictions differ between states and may be updated from time to time. Please check your state for the most recent restrictions.
- Alabama – Offenders are forbidden from living or working within 2,000 feet of a school or childcare facility.
- Arkansas – Serious offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school or childcare facility.
- California – Serious offenders cannot live within one-fourth of a mile from a school or daycare center.
- Florida – Offender whose victim was under the age of 18 cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school or other areas where children may gather together.
- Georgia– Offenders may not live, work or approach within 1,000 feet of a school, bus stop, daycare center or any other area where children gather.
- Illinois– Offenders may not live within 500 feet of a school or school facility.
- Indiana– Offenders may not live within 1,000 feet of any school property while on parole.
- Iowa – Offenders may not live within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare.
- Kentucky – Offenders may not live within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, ball field or playground.
- Louisiana – Serious offenders may not live within 1,000 feet of a school or school related area, such as bus stops, for the duration of the parole.
- Michigan – Offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school safety zone.
- Minnesota – Parole Commissar has power to determine restrictions of the offender.
- Ohio– Offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare or any other place where children attend.
- Oklahoma– Offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school.
- Oregon – Department of Corrections has power to determine each individual restriction.
- South Dakota – Offenders cannot live or approach within 500 feet of a community safety zone.
- Tennessee– Offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of any schools, daycares or previous victims.
- Texas – State parole board shall have power to decide restrictions for individuals.
- Washington (state) – Serious offenders cannot live within 880 feet of any school or daycare.
- West Virginia– Offenders on parole cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare.