The sex offender next door

Here’s one of those stories that’s so forehead-slappingly obvious it makes you wonder why, exactly, it’s news: Residents of poor neighborhoods are shocked to find registered sex offenders living among them, and where you find one, you tend to find many.

The house at 3514 Canal is an extreme example of a trend that’s beginning to concern many cities: clusters of sex offenders that infect low-income neighborhoods.

The Canal rooming house is just one of 16 sex offender residences clustered in an area of about a square mile just east of downtown and south of Buffalo Bayou.

The area takes in one other multiple-offender address, a small apartment building in the 400 block of Hutcheson where three registered sex offenders live.

That’s a total of 24 registered sex offenders in the area. All but two were convicted of offenses involving children.

Look, I don’t mean to make light of legitimate concerns here, but where do you think registered sex offenders are going to live? Every time one of them turns up in a “good” neighborhood, it leads the local TV newscast that night amidst screaming graphics that ask “Could They Be Next Door To You?”

The problem is growing in other cities as well.

The Arizona Legislature has formed the House Ad Hoc Sex Offender Clustering Committee to deal with the problem there.


In St. Petersburg, Fla., civic associations are banding together to fight sex offender clusters at cheap motels revealed in a St. Petersburg Times article last year.

Again, where else are they going to live? We’ve broadened the definition of “sex offender” these days to the point where it covers a lot of relatively minor crimes, so locking them up for good is not really an option. Given that many of them will sooner or later be back on the streets, would you rather have them clustered or spread out? Which is the greater risk?

Probation and parole rules prevent registered child sex offenders from living near places where children gather: schools, daycares, parks, playgrounds, youth centers, public pools, video arcades.

“It’s so limited, so strict,” Enax said, “and there are so many parks and schools.”

Yet another reason why you’d expect to find them grouped together. There’s only so many places they can be without violating parole. Some of them can’t visit their attorneys without violating parole. I’m certainly not going to weep for them, but it seems a bit hysterical to put such stringent restrictions on their movements and then get bent out of shape when you realize they’re all in the same places.

Although studies proliferate on recidivism among sex offenders and how it is affected by treatment, notification laws and other factors, no research could be found on whether living in proximity to other sex offenders affected them negatively, or at all.

We sure will feel silly if it turns out this has no negative effect on their treatment and recidivism, won’t we?

I certainly understand why people would be frightened and upset to realize that a bunch of sex offenders live in their neighborhood. All I’m saying is, what are we going to do about it that won’t simply push the problem into someone else’s neighborhood?

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13 Responses to The sex offender next door

  1. Oh, goody. The sex offenders can all go offend each other.

  2. No, you can’t just wish them away….

    Sex offenders clustering in poor neighborhoods (thanks to Chuck Kuffner) No, it’s not Chuck’s fault that sex offenders are clustering in poor neighborhoods, but he does shine a light on a topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. No one wa…

  3. No, you can’t just wish them away….

    Sex offenders clustering in poor neighborhoods (thanks to Chuck Kuffner) No, it’s not Chuck’s fault that sex offenders are clustering in poor neighborhoods, but he does shine a light on a topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. No one wa…

  4. Yehudit says:

    I read about one guy who was arrested and labelled as a sex offender because he woke up after a big drunk, went outside and peed off his front porch. Now this guy is ostracized for life.

    I’m as much against sex with minors as the next guy, but once the false memory Satanist child-care center hysterics got center stage, that whole subject has been one big witch-hunt.

  5. jessica says:

    my boyfriend was 17 when he commited his offense with a willing partner. he has spent 4 years in prison and is noe on parole. he does not like children but everyone gets bunched into the same pile. now he can’t even visit his two beautiful children. cases should be evaluated individually. everyone is not a monster

  6. cris sardina says:

    I am one of the people who discovered a privatized sex offender house in my neighborhood in Tucson. Gues how many I found in a twelve unit-studio bedroom motel apartment whatever it is? Take a wild stab at it, one? five? twenty? thirty?, forty? How about forty eight, that’s right, packed four men to a room. I am doing my Masters research on AZ. clustering and privatization and working on legislation to get some type of control on these people for profit slumlords and how they are running their properties. I have met with the ad hoc commitee (we were used as an example), the governor, ADOC, DPS, adult probation, and have an appointment to meet with the new director of corrections, Dora Schriro. Please spare me the rhetoric about sex offenders having to live somewhere. When you secretly (ADOC& county Probation) place 48 sex offenders in a neighborhood and do little notification to neighborhoods (the pre-school and church only) like it’s only one offender living there, well I’m sorry I don’t find sympathy for the poor misguided sex offender. I am not talking about the guy who peed on his front porch or the 18 yr. old. with the 16 yr. old, that is misfortunate. what I am talking about is 48 class two and three sexual offenders against women and children with some of the most violent criminal histories I have ever seen. I encourage you to push your senators and legislators to make these privatized halfway house licensed and be held accountable for what they are shoving into our neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are not hunting grounds, it’s a place where people have spent their equity and lives trying to build a home for their families, and now the state wants to take it away as if it were nothing. Legally, Nimby doesn’t cut it but, Not in my neighborhood, Not in my neighborhood

  7. Debra Schindler says:

    Cris, any suggestions on how I might find such clusters in Maryland?
    Thanks for any assistance.

  8. Robert Lamb says:

    Why put up with these scumbags at all? They have given up thier right to live among us. They cannot or will not stop intill someone stops them

  9. Isaac says:

    My brother-in-law is a registered sex offender for having sex with a 17 year-old when he was 19. We still know the victim, she wrote letters to the court and DA begging them not to press charges. He had to serve time in protective custody and register, etc. I know all the details, so do all our neigbhors and extended family members. This guy’s life is an open book. It’s a mistake he made over 5 years ago. He’s paid for his mistake far too much. The registration fills him with such shame he can’t speak out for himself. This is not a Christian thing that we’re doing to a large number of these people, AND their neighbors.

  10. laura says:

    i agree with issac…my fiance (21) is halfway through serving a year of work release because of a nut ball 17 year old who he didnt want to date her after she carved his name into her arm…she did this to another guy who was 20…and turned him in as well when she felt used..i dont agree with what my boyfriend did. but the girl and her parents are also to blame.parents need to monitor theyre children.theres a lot of predators out there but theres also a lot of emotionally disturbed little girls meeting men off the internet with full intent of having sex with them because theyre lacking somthing at home. and when theyre fantasy goes south they do the child like thing and run to an authority figure to taddle.

  11. Diane says:

    I would agree that an 18 or 19 year old having consensual sex with a 17 year old should not be labeled as a sex offender, but to blame the girl is equally wrong. Sorry guys but I taught my 18 year old to check id and just say no!

    And I truly cannot comprehend anyone in this day and age who could truly believe a parent could possibly monitor their 17 year olds sex life, if they could there would most likely be more 18+ year olds lamenting their fates.

  12. Kyle says:

    Ok this is just really confuseing Dated this one girl for like 2months. We where both seniors i was older by 6months. She agreed to have sex and now i can be called a sex offender?

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