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Registered sex offenders booted by 'pocket parks'

Being registered as a sex offender is already a terrible fate for those guilty of sex crimes. They have committed a regrettable offense and have been punished for it -- the registry only adds to their woe in the future. Are we advocating that the sex offender registry be tossed out? No -- but the treatment that people on the registry receive does not help them to rebuild their lives.

Take, for example, a new strategy that many neighborhoods are utilizing to both prevent sex offenders from moving to their neighborhood and to kick out sex offenders that are already in the area. What these neighborhoods do is build a "pocket park" in their area, which then forces sex offenders to move or stay away from the neighborhood, since they cannot be near parks.

The pocket park does not have to serve its literal purpose (i.e. a recreational area for kids to play and families to gather). Instead, these tiny parks are merely there to keep sex offenders out.

You may think that this is a good thing for public safety. But, it can actually prove more harmful than good. By interrupting a sex offender's ability to rebuild his or her life, they are more likely to recommit a crime. It can force them into homelessness, or into bad neighborhoods where they are routinely around negative influences. There really are registered sex offenders out there trying to turn their lives around -- and treating them all the same does not help the public at large.

Source: New York Times, "Neighborhoods Seek to Banish Sex Offenders by Building Parks," Ian Lovett, March 9, 2013

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