Sex offender registration policies increasing danger to public

By Steven Yoder . . . On Sept. 30, 2016, in a Los Angeles suburb, 48-year-old Michael Zinzun, a homeless man on the California sex offender registry, approached a woman sleeping on a park bench and reportedly asked if she wanted to smoke meth. When she turned him down, he allegedly started sexually assaulting her. As she screamed, he dragged her away, pushed her over a three-foot retaining wall, and then raped and tried to strangle her, according to charges filed by the Los Angeles district attorney and local reports. The woman survived, and Zinzun is facing life in prison for rape, kidnapping, and other charges.

Cases like this might seem to argue for even tougher controls on ex-offenders convicted of sex crimes. But new research indicates that the existing sex-offense regime in the US actually may be making repeat sex crimes more likely.

Since the mid-1990s, legislators have devised increasingly byzantine rules for those who have been punished. Those include sending out postcards when an offender moves to a neighborhood, placing warning signs outside offenders’ homes, setting restrictions on what offenders can do on Halloween, and devising “presence” restrictions banning them from places like parks, malls, and museums where children might be present. That ever-tightening leash has produced unintended outcomes with an almost mechanical predictability. Many cities have devised new no-go zones that keep them from living near places like school, parks, and daycares and have seen their homelessness rates spike as a result.

California passed a law in Nov. 2006 forbidding parolees who’d committed a sex crime from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks. Less than five years later, the number of them who were homeless had risen from 88 to almost 2,000. In Oct. 2014, Milwaukee passed an ordinance banning many registrants from living within 2,000 ft of schools, parks, day cares, recreational trails, and playgrounds. The number of homeless registrants promptly soared from 15 to 230 in less than two years, according to an analysis in Oct. 2016 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Now, new research suggests making it harder for offenders to find a place to live might increase reoffending. In a study released in July 2016, researchers from the California and Canadian justice departments looked at more than 1,600 California sex offenders on probation or parole. Overall, the group’s sex-crime recidivism rates were low–less than 5% during the five-year follow-up period. But those who were homeless were over four times more likely to commit a repeat sex crime than those who weren’t. “Collectively, transient status seems to be associated with higher sexual recidivism rates,” the researchers concluded. That’s likely because those who lack stable homes, jobs, and social connections are more prone to reoffend.

Please read the rest of Steven’s article courtesy of Quartz.

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19 Thoughts to “Sex offender registration policies increasing danger to public”

  1. AvatarT

    It really does not do any good to toughen sex offender laws and to point fingers at registrants, because it creates negative emotion, and like Yoda would say “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to aggression, aggression leads to pain and suffer, and leads to the dark side”.

    1. AvatarRon

      This turns shunned citizens into terroristic time bombs. When one resorts to the deep end. Shame on our politicians and fear mongers who are contributory and complicit to the crimes espoused on future or current victims of sexual abuse. Many offenders are hugely remorseful for their past and poor choices and eagerly yearn a second chance. We can’t keep making sex offenders foundational plights for political expediency and legislative notoriety. I have fought very hard to become the just citizen I once was and I will not allow ignorance or hate conquer my being or dignity.

    2. Avatardavid

      That’s so true…i’m amazed no one on the registry has gone off “the deep end” in a violent way. Yet. When you have nothing to live for, and the whole world thinks you’re a monster (thanks to state-sponsored hate laws)…throw in a little mental illness/isolation/substance abuse,…. .Ka-BOOOM!!!

    3. AvatarLovecraft

      Oh it has happened. Nick Holbert who was a registrant murdered (no sexual assault) Kelli Bordeaux in NC. Basically he was out on a date/drinking with her and someone told her he was a rso. She started acting distant with him and when he took her home she went off on him calling him a child molester etc and he beat her to death. The question is did he go off the deep end because of the registry or was he one of the bad ones that make us all look bad.

      If you are talking about registrants becoming radicalized or extremists I don’t know, but when you take everything away from someone that makes them a person anything is possible. The registry certainly could create the right environment for that kind of behavior. From everything I have seen and read the registry increases the likelihood of someone on it creating any crime and mostly non sexual with factors like homelessness, anger, fear, frustration, stress, isolation, no social or family structure etc all playing a part.

  2. AvatarRhonda

    Let’s face the fact’s being homeless; cold and hungry would be a tough road for anyone, then hang a sex offender status on them makes life look to be hopeless. Prison has beds, food, some of life’s luxury’s cable tv, friend’s and hot shower’s well warm anyway. I think if we keep on the road of labeling these offenders we are gonna start seeing more offender’s committing crimes so they don’t have to do without life’s necessities that are next to impossible for those that are without a support system of there own to be able to achieve. We need more people in government to wake up and see these registry’s are a waste of resources at any angle they are looked at. Born from lie’s and the truth will be it’s death!

  3. Well we can all give a shout to temptation and believe it or not everybody has temptations but everybody’s not a crack head. And no I wasn’t that big of a flower child back in the 70’s but the point remains.
    The crack head should of just left and went about his business or buy a hooker would save a lot of stress for others that have been railroaded in this situation.
    Common sense says nobody “forces” anyone or even sets them up in this deadly game of ring around the rosie or maybe we should talk about transgender bathrooms?

    But still they say ignorance is blessed but in some of this one shot Charlie deal who is the bigger criminal…. the one that set someone up and enticed one to smoke crack or the one who called rape or the one that way set up for a victimless crime or the one presenting the opportunity. I will let you all figure it out as I am not a rocket scientist but have a nice Christmas.

  4. Avatardavid

    The last line in this article just got me in the gut… this 19 yo guy can do what he did and receive a slap on the wrist but if he had sex with an underage girl/boyfriend he would go to prison and possibly be a sex offender for life.

    I’m not big on the whole “lock em up” mentality but since my arrest in a sex sting i have this tendency to compare crime vs. punishment. So when i read how a guy shoves a clothes hanger up a vulnerable person’s butt (i’m making an assumption that’s what happened) and only receive 2 to 3 years probation it doesn’t seem fair.

    Nope, we don’t need tougher sex crime laws. We crossed the line into “cruel and unusual” territory a long time ago. Besides, i feel revenge-style justice is like shutting the barn door after the cows got out (excuse the phrase- i’m from wisconsin). Even this kid who stuck a clothes hanger up another kids ass…maybe prison isn’t the best thing. Obviously he has some issues. Would putting him in a violent environment improve him or our society? Doubt it…But either way…2 to 3 years probation? I know guys who sold small amounts of weed and received more punishment.

    Contemplating the “fairness” of sex crime laws is a perpetual disappointment. At some point in the future (if there is one) people will consider our sex crime hysteria (cuz that’s what it is) the same way we look back on Witch Hunts/Segregation/McCarthyism/ Japanese interment camps/ect ect.

  5. AvatarT

    I wonder if these tough sex offender laws are design to disenfranchise registrants to make people be afraid of them and enough to support these laws, making it impossible to follow, and very easy to break that registrants would be incarcerated, while this is making more money for the corporates?.

  6. Things like this make me hurt! When will the government wake up and realize that all they are doing is making things worse!
    I just wish that more people would read the articles on this and other sites like it then maybe we’d have a better chance.

  7. AvatarLovecraft

    This may sound kind of messed up, but sometimes I think living in prison is way easier. I have my own house and still have friends, family, and a good support structure etc, but outside it’s like I get to watch other people live while I get this pseudo life. I can’t really connect to anyone or stay connected (social media), find any sort of fulfilling employment, joy has been removed from all the little things that mattered, and I feel like I have to constantly look over my shoulder (not because I’m doing something wrong, but just because that’s how society feels about us). In prison it is much easier to know what the rules are and everyone has access to the same things. Out here it has gotten to a point between the premise restrictions, social media bans, etc that the life we have after parole really isn’t a life worth having. If (I) we are so dangerous that I have to have all these restrictions like not being able to go to the movies or Chick-fil-A then why am I free? He’ll I didn’t even have a hands on crime, but that doesn’t stop the government from using bad data to forecast future offenses to justify lengthy registration.

    1. FredFred

      You have perfectly described how many of us feel. That is the message that we need to keep spreading so that our plight can be better understood by those struggling to see how these laws interfere with our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

  8. AvatarErika


    “Unintended Consequences” is a two way street however what happens when you have hard cross-validated fact proving the contrary?

    Does ‘political grandstanding’ still rule the roost?

    Does ‘Burning Down the House to Roast the Pig’ still stand to reason?

    If public safety is really the issue and not “double jeopardy” then what? Jeopardy is jeopardy despite a clear definition of the word itself being left to a judiciaries individualized interpretations.

  9. AvatarJess

    I was hugely remorseful for my offense a very long time ago but as time and non ending treatment and polys and continually public hysteria run on and on I have lost hope of ever living a normal let alone happy life with true joy in it. It truly seems to me its all a big money game and DOC and all the treatment facilities and jails have a hand in the coffers. I feel mentally ill from all this it seems no matter how good you are or excel out here keeping treatment and parole officers happy it really doesn’t matter. I feel they hope I will screw up so they can send me back to prison. Because the pressure is always there. When will it ever end? When I die I figure.

    1. AvatarRajendra

      Even if Jesus Christ Himself were to walk today with the label of a sex offender, they will find something to crucify Him again.

  10. AvatarWil

    I put this together maybe some one can use it or something like it in their legal brief. This is a comparison of laws that Hitler passed against the Jews and the laws being passes against sex offenders. Pretty scary!


    Hitler’s laws against the Jews

    1. Had to register. (sometimes twice daily)
    2. Banned from public parks.
    3. Banned from public pools.
    4. Banned from public libraries / schools
    5. Banned from cinemas.
    6. Banned from certain jobs /owning business
    7. Banned from owning pets.
    8. Banned from owning cars.
    9. Banned from owning phones, radios, typewriters.
    10. Banned from traveling.
    11. Banned from marriage outside of race.
    12. Limits on where they could live.
    13. People did not want as neighbors.
    14. Tattooed identification numbers.
    15. Special identification cards.
    16. Special taxes.
    17. Had to wear yellow arm bans / yellow stars.
    18. House arrest from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1
    19. Random house searches.
    20. Boycotts
    21. Curfews
    22. Deportation
    23. Put in prison camps.
    24. Put to death.
    25. Blocked bank accounts.
    26. Reduced food rations.
    27. Banned from buying tobacco, cigarettes, flowers.


    1. Have to register.
    2. Banned from public parks / places where children congregate.
    3. Banned from public pools.
    4. Banned from libraries / schools
    5. Banned from cinemas.
    6. Banned from certain jobs / owning certain businesses.
    7. Banned from owning certain dogs.
    8. Have to register all vehicles.
    9. Have to register phone numbers, email address, IP addresses,
    chat room names, wed site addresses, etc.
    10. Special conditions when traveling.
    11. Cannot date / wed someone with children.
    12. Limits on where sex offenders can live.
    13. People do not want as neighbors.
    14. Talk of implanting GPS chips.
    15. Marks on their drivers license, license plates, passports.
    16. Registration fees.
    17. Signs in their front yards.
    18. House arrest or group confinement on Halloween, can’t dress
    as Santa or the Easter Bunny
    19. Random address checks / house searches.
    20. People refuse to hire sex offenders.
    21. Curfews.
    22. N/A
    23. Put in prison / life long civil commitment.
    24. Talk of the death penalty for sex offenders.
    25. N/A
    26. N/A
    27. N/A

    1. AvatarTed

      Those million of us condemned under a disproportionate and dysfunctional legal system are indeed America’s answer for providing a class of scapegoats for the citizenry to look down upon, just like Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

    2. AvatarKathy

      Wil, thank you so much for what you’ve shared here. My family has talked about the sameness of these two atrocities but never actually sat down and compared the two. The attorney working on our son’s appeal will have this in hand tomorrow.

  11. AvatarDavid D

    Take everything above to heart then imagine a guy in this system that didn’t actually commit the crime he was convicted of. What hopeless rage must go through their mind on a daily basis? For this man I would imagine It is not good enough that this be undone but it must backfire on society in such a way that they will never again repeat the same mistakes. Society must be punished before people stop the vigilantism.

  12. AvatarBKS

    I feel so very alone. A day does not go by when I don’t consider suicide. My conviction did not even involve a minor. Everyone has forgotten my 50+ years of the good I did. There is no hope, only shame and sadness. My husband now despises me, and is now abusive, but I have no choice but to stay, or I would be homeless.

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