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A Spatial Examination of Residency Restriction Legislation: The Impact on Social Disorganization & Service Providers


This study seeks to determine if the neighborhoods more available for sex offenders to legally reside can be characterized as more economically distressed and socially unstable than the neighborhoods that are less available for such offenders to legally reside. A secondary aim id to examine the relationship between census tract availability and the number of service providers located within census tracts to determine if more available census tracts contain fewer service providers than less available census tracts. Results indicate mixed results in terms of the relationship between neighborhood availability, economic distress, and community stability and these results vary across counties and estimation methods. The results suggest that residency restriction legislation can have divergent consequences. It may be the case in some jurisdictions that those areas characterized as more available to sex offenders may actually be more organized, but this does not mean that this is necessarily where offenders are living. The intent of this study is to examine the effects of residency restriction legislation in and of itself, not the effects of informal community processes seeking to rid communities of registered sex offenders. These findings suggest that the legislation itself may not be the cause of the residential patterns among registered sex offenders reported in previous research. Socially disorganized densely populated areas are those most likely to have a greater number of schools and parks and thus a greater amount of restricted area. Thus, if sex offenders were to abide by residency restriction legislation they may actually find themselves residing in more organized areas, with more legal availability yet perhaps less practical availability.

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