NC Justice Center joins fight against residency restrictions

By North Carolina Justice Center . . . The North Carolina General Assembly’s misguided Senate Bill 52 neither improves public safety nor prevents crime and relies on “stranger danger” fear tropes.

The bill, proposed by Senator Vickie Sawyer from the 34th district, would clarify that the 1,000-foot residency exclusion zones surrounding schools and childcare facilities must be measured from property line to property line, rather than the property address or structure. This clarification would significantly increase the residence restrictions in many communities around the state, including cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, where people on the sex offense registry are already excluded from half of the available residences.

Although this legislation appears to focus on a technicality, it requires further scrutiny. The introduction of SB 52 is an important opportunity to begin a conversation about how to effectively manage the myriad circumstances of those on the sex offense registry list.

One-size-fits-all lawmaking is not working. Study after study shows that the current approach is ineffective yet fear and judgment have driven legislators on both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers should base their votes on sound research rather than emotional reasoning.

Legislation like SB 52 creates an illusion of public safety but would in fact increase the likelihood of recidivism among people on the registry by drastically limiting their housing options and pushing them into homelessness. In addition, such laws further racial inequity in the criminal justice system.

“Residency restrictions are ineffective in promoting public safety but create extreme hardships for people on the sex offense registry, including a disproportionate number of Black North Carolinians,” said Daniel Bowes, attorney and project director of the Fair Chance Criminal Justice Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. “For example, in Iredell County where Senator Sawyer resides, Black people make up just 12 percent of the general population but more than 30 percent of sex offense registrants.”

In turn, SB 52 would also push hundreds of people out of their homes and make it hard for many others to comply because of difficulty ascertaining property lines. Ultimately, this legislation relies on fear tactics, does not improve public safety, and is harmful to those working to reenter society. It’s time to begin a new conversation about this issue.


6 thoughts on “NC Justice Center joins fight against residency restrictions

  • August 17, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    In-patient Rehab. I would think that as long as it is an adult who is administering the rehab, you should be good. I suffered two strokes last year and am currently receiving in-home Therapy and care as I am disabled and cannot drive anywhere. You should be able to request that it be a male and or a female Therapist do your in-home rehab.
    Good luck and feel better soon., Marlin

  • August 17, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    As I was watching a local TV channel here in Raleigh yesterday they stated that ne restrictions on distances had been passed into law. Nothing about which offenders it would affect. But I hope that all who were convicted prior to these new restrictions will stand up and fight them as being in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. I know if they try to heap these new restrictions on me, I will fight for my rights. (Yes, We still do have rights.)But if we don’t fight to keep them then they will just keep on piling new laws and restrictions on us.

  • April 28, 2021 at 12:56 am

    It should be noted that Sawyer has accused a local man on the registry that lives within 1000′ of her property of all kinds of false accusations because she claims he is hurting her ability to sell her house! Of course all the claims are false as verified by the local sheriff, but she’s essentially using her position for personal business. I doubt that’s why
    the neighbor has anything to do with it of course, she’s just looking for some press and more fear mongering.

    In the end, she has introduced a bill to make one man move. She doesn’t give a rats butt how it affects anyone.
    I wonder how many felonies her and her husband have committed with their insurance business over the years
    that they need to be investigated for? Maybe none, but it’s been my experience that the one yelling “fire” is the
    one who set it.

  • March 30, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Ps.s just wanna say thank you for everything y’all do. I’m off probation in less than 3 months. I don’t know what I’m gonna do, but I intend to do things to help. I’m in a better situation than most, and I am inspired by y’all, Janice, and Emily Horowitz. Thank you for caring.

  • March 30, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    This is dumb I agree. I’m worried about HB-84. Currently I pled guilty to 3rd degree sex exploit of minor. Long story short, a judge ruled and signed, currently the premise restrictions don’t apply to me. I can take my daughter to daycare, to parks where ordinances are not in place. I can take her swimming and to museums. If HB-84 passes I’m scared I may not be able to even go to my post office cause it’s across the street from a daycare. It will be a retroactive punishment taking away my rights. Me and my wife are scared. This will affect my job and everything. Both HB-84 and SB-52 are terrible.

  • March 29, 2021 at 7:20 am

    Can a registered sex offender that’s had a stroke get impatient rehab


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