York City Council considering residency restriction ordinance

The Omaha World-Herald article does not say how many of the 31 non-incarcerated registrants in York would be subject to the residency restriction ordinance.

YORK, Neb. — The York City Council is considering the creation of residency restrictions for convicted/registered sex offenders and has already held the first of three readings of an ordinance that would establish those restrictions.  

This would pertain to how close a convicted/registered sex offender can live from a school or child care facility.

“According to state law, it is necessary for the municipality to adopt an ordinance in order to impose residency restrictions,” York City Attorney Charles Campbell explained in a written statement to the mayor and council. “I was contacted recently by a concerned citizen who became aware that a convicted sex offender would be locating in close proximity to a child care facility. As we do not have a residence restriction in place, I prepared this ordinance if you wish to consider adopting it.”

 Regardless, there is no evidence that residence restrictions make communities safer. In fact, the York City Council could be taking action that would make the town less safe.

As a social-science writer used to the hedge-y language of “This study suggests that A may cause B,” it felt weird to be exposed to a debate in which the evidence is stacked so highly on one side. So I sent emails to Karen Terry and Cynthia Calkins Mercado, both professors at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice whose primary area of expertise is sex offenders. 

Would it really be accurate, I asked them, to say that there’s literallyno evidence these policies are useful? “You are correct,” Terry wrote back. “To date, there is no empirical evidence that these policies reduce the rate of sexual offending.” Mercado concurred, and added that there’s “considerable evidence that these restrictions make readjustment to the community more difficult and thus may inadvertently increase risk for recidivism.” 

Hopefully, leaders in York will think twice before going forward with this ordinance.

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