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Mathematical model can help communities better evaluate sex offender policies
Date:3/13/2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new mathematical model developed by Indiana University Bloomington and Arizona State University geographers could help communities that are in the midst of passing or reforming sex offender laws. The researchers describe the model and report its first test in an Early View edition of Papers in Regional Science.

By forcing users to quantify risk and issues of special concern, the model can help the policymakers of concerned communities to focus on the spatial management of sex offenders and not mere punitive measures.

"We've taken a rigorous, quantitative approach that policymakers can implement," said IU Bloomington geographer Tony Grubesic. "You can't recommend one sex offender policy or management strategy over another with any sort of confidence if you don't know how the proposed laws will play out in reality."

Grubesic devised the model with Arizona State University geographer Alan Murray.

The model incorporates many of the pertinent variables addressed in popular sex offender laws, including housing restrictions, sensitive facilities and individuals who might be considered the prey of sexual predators. By adjusting parameters and variables, model users can see how adjustments in a law would influence the position and density of sex offenders in a community.

There are three commonly used geographic strategies for managing sex offenders, all of which entail some type housing restrictions. In general, residence restrictions prevent sex offenders from establishing a permanent residence within a specified distance (e.g. 1,000 ft.) from a sensitive facility, such as a school. Dispersion ordinances seek to reduce neighborhood exposure to sex offenders by minimum distance at which the sex offenders may live or work relative to other sex offenders. The rationale behind saturation laws is similar to that of dispersion laws, except saturation laws focus on limiting the number of sex offen
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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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