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Consequences for sex crimes in California tend to harm defendants

New evidence about punishment for sex crimes in California shows that consequences are having an unfair impact on convicted offenders. The news could affect legal choices for those who are seeking criminal defense options against alleged sex crimes. Research suggests that those convicted of sex crimes are not only more likely to be homeless because of restrictive rules -- they are also more likely to be arrested again for new violations.

In California, increasingly tight restrictions have constricted the ability of convicted sex offenders to find suitable housing. These defendants therefore end up homeless more often, largely because of rules prohibiting them from living near schools, parks, day cares, trails and playgrounds, among other locations. Many common U.S. criminal justice practices actually seem to raise rates of re-arrest, including the dehumanizing requirement to publicly post offenders' names, personal information and photographs.

In essence, these unfair policies put massive social constraints on those sex crime defendants that are simply attempting to re-integrate into society. The good news: Some courts are starting to take notice. Federal courts throughout the country are processing cases and eliminating or loosening residency restrictions for those who have been convicted of a sex crime. Legislators are similarly attempting to reform the policies, which marginalize those convicted of these specific crimes.

Criminal defendants -- and those who have been convicted of specific crimes -- still have legal rights in court. They should not be unnecessarily discriminated against, no matter the nature of their alleged offenses. These loosening restrictions could improve the legal landscape for those who are accused of sex crimes, offering them better criminal defense options and allowing them to lead a more normal life, no matter whether or not they are convicted.

Source: Quartz, "New evidence says US sex-offender policies are actually causing more crime," Steven Yoder, Dec. 21, 2016

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