Letter to the Editors: Sex Offender Geography

March 6, 2012

The free-market works too silently and over such long stretches of time that it is in invisible in most policy arguments. An exception, however, occurred in my section of town when the market acted this week to protect our children from criminal predators.

Earlier we had lost a 9-year-old girl whose great tragedy it was to live in the midst of what was described as a “hotbed” of child molesters — about two dozen older mobile homes surrounded by middle-class family subdivisions.

It was popular with sex offenders due to its low rents and a location well outside the prescribed 1,000 feet from any school, daycare or public park. It was an “unintended consequence,” to use some economics lingo.

In any case, the relocation policy failed the 9-year-old, as did the mountains of paperwork and thousands of government hours, including countless police investigations, documenting sex offenders living within a few yards of her.

But to the rescue came, of all people, commercial realtors. An auction sign went up for the trailer park a few days ago. The notoriety, if not a sense of civic duty in the owner, had increased the “opportunity costs” of the property. That meant the tract would be sold for a “higher use,” most likely commercial.

The government, though, is already worried about where all the sex offenders can live now. “It causes problems, because now 14 people don’t know where they are going to go,” a sheriff’s officer told a local newspaper.

It is suggested the law be amended to read that sex offenders must relocate within 1,000 feet of the children or grandchildren of any pensioned legislator, judge, parole officer, prosecuting attorney or child-welfare officer.

— Craig Ladwig


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