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Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them.
In addition, sex offender laws are predicated on the widespread assumption that most people convicted of sex offenses will continue to commit such crimes if given the opportunity.
A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance (typically 500 to 2,500 feet) of places where children gather-for example, schools, playgrounds, and daycare centers.
Human Rights Watch appreciates the sense of concern and urgency that has prompted these laws.
Some politicians cite recidivism rates for sex offenders that are as high as 80-90 percent.
In fact, most (three out of four) former sex offenders do not reoffend and most sex crimes are not committed by former offenders.
Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished. Proponents of sex offender registration and community notification believe they protect children in two ways: police have a list of likely suspects should a sex crime occur in the neighborhood in which a registered offender lives, and parents have information that will enable them to heighten their vigilance and to warn their children to stay away from particular people.
Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes.
The justifications offered for sex offender laws focus on sexually violent offenders.
Ashoka Mukpo, US Program Associate, and US Program interns Anjali Balasingham, Andrea Barrow, Madeline Gressel, and Kari White provided important research assistance.
Zama Coursen-Neff, acting deputy director of the Children's Rights Division and Janet Walsh, acting director of the Women's Rights Division, reviewed the report. What happened to nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford is every parent's worst nightmare.
They reflect a deep public yearning for safety in a world that seems increasingly threatening.
Every child has the right to live free from violence and sexual abuse.