Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently released a study, “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States“, that is critical of the numerous state laws targeting convicted sex offenders. The newly released report said that many state laws targeting convicted sex offenders violate the rights of people who pose little risk, a leading human rights group said Wednesday. It called for repeal of laws restricting where these ex-offenders can live and for curbs on access to online registries.
The Associated Press said that, “Human Rights Watch depicted its report, two years in the making, as the first comprehensive study of sex-offender policies in the United States. It said many of the laws are of questionable value in protecting children from sex crimes, but expose offenders who have served their sentences to harassment and violence.”

The HRW report stated: “Unfortunately, our research reveals that sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted, and may cause more harm than good:
a.. The registration laws are overbroad in scope and overlong in duration, requiring people to register who pose no safety risk;
b.. Under community notification laws, anyone anywhere can access online sex offender registries for purposes that may have nothing to do with public safety. Harassment of and violence against registrants have been the predictable result;
c.. In many cases, residency restrictions have the effect of banishing registrants from entire urban areas and forcing them to live far from their homes and families.
The evidence is overwhelming, as detailed in this report, that these laws cause great harm to the people subject to them. On the other hand, proponents of these laws are not able to point to convincing evidence of public safety gains from them. Even assuming some public safety benefit, however, the laws can be reformed to reduce their adverse effects without compromising that benefit. Registration laws should be narrowed in scope and duration. Publicly accessible online registries should be eliminated, and community notification should be accomplished solely by law enforcement officials. Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished.”