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Stricter Sex Offender Laws: Does a Resident Registry Work?

California's strict sex offender law — called Jessica's Law — passed by 70 percent of voters in 2006 may not be the fix they'd hoped for. The provisions hoped to lock away more child molesters are not only not helping, but could be causing more harm.

One of the hallmarks of the law, banning sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, in some cases means entire cities are off-limits for offenders. Though intending to keep kids safe, because the number of offenders who consider themselves "transient" has risen 44 percent, the amount of offenses actually increases.

To see why this is, and how to find a map of your own neighborhood,


The California Sex Offender Management Board says, "Current research concludes that suitable and stable housing for sex offenders is critical to reducing recidivism and increasing community safety." One author explains it this way: "We're locking up a small number, then releasing the rest and saying, 'Good luck, and you can't live anywhere.' "

The other sticking point, the mandate GPS system for offenders (Ireland is considering a similar plan before people even offend) hit a snag when they realized no one had passed money to buy the units.

They're hoping to fix that money issue this fall. In the meantime, you can map out your own area — does knowing make you feel more or less safe? Do strict residency measures help or hurt the cause?

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