Yarmouth citizens should oppose proposed residency restrictions against sex offenders. Only one New Hampshire town – Holderness, with two sex offenders – still has one of these dubious codes. The rest have repealed their ordinances under threat of litigation.

These codes feed on the misinformation that sex offenders all have many victims and feel no remorse, that they are incurable terrorists who prey on strangers. Prosecutors, police officers and victim advocates in New Hampshire widely oppose these restrictions because they erode safety.

Minnesota considered a statewide residency restriction. But corrections officials in that state studied 224 convicted sexual offenders who were arrested for a new sexual crime to see if they ever cased a playground to find a victim. It never happened. The proposed Yarmouth code would have prevented none of those crimes.

The main threat to kids comes from people they trust: their families, schoolmates, baby sitters, clergy, teachers and coaches. Residency restrictions aim to stop the monster who watches the seesaw. He does not exist. Teens and children commit nearly half the sexual abuse against kids.

These codes ban registrants from living in most of the low-income housing. The registrant, who probably has no car, must live far from public transportation, jobs, pharmacies and treatment programs, if he can even find a home with a roof. The person stands to lose his job, stop taking medications and quit counseling.

Residency restrictions destabilize people by branding them, making them unemployed, homeless and costing them their families and support systems. Fewer than 5 percent of registrants commit new sex crimes in the first three years after being released from prison. The rate plummets after that. They have the lowest repeat-offense rate of all former prisoners.

You can learn more at our website, www.ccjrnh.org.

Chris Dornin

Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform – New Hampshire

Concord, N.H.