[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] concluded in a report [text] released [press release] Thursday that is unclear whether sex offender laws "do more harm or good," noting that they prevent further harm to children but that they also encourage the harassment and ostracism of sex offenders. The report criticized registration laws as unsuitable for offenders who pose no safety risk, and said that community notification laws often lead to harassment of former sex offenders without increasing neighborhood safety. In other circumstances, residency restrictions, such as protective covenants on housing units and distance restrictions from schools and hospital campuses, "have the effect of banishing registrants from entire urban areas and forcing them to live far from their homes and families."
HRW interviewed victims, offenders, law enforcement and governmental officials, and others over a two-year period leading up to the report. The report cites studies indicating that three-quarters of sex offenders do not repeat their crimes, and that, in some case, even serious sex offenders can be receptive to treatment. Reuters has more.