RALEIGH (August 13, 2021) — Earlier this week, the General Assembly submitted House Bill 84 to correct a grammatical error. After returning from committee, the bill now includes problematic language from Senate Bill 52, which establishes that the 1,000-foot sex offense registry residency exclusion surrounding schools and child care facilities is measured from any property line, instead of property address or structure.
This misguided bill neither improves public safety nor prevents crime and relies on “stranger danger” fear tropes. The legislation would significantly increase the residence restrictions in many communities around the state, including cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, where people on the sex offense registry are already excluded from half of the available residences.
One-size-fits-all lawmaking is not working. Study after study shows that the current approach is ineffective yet fear and judgment have driven legislators on both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers should base their votes on sound research rather than emotional reasoning.
Legislation like SB 52 and HB 84 creates an illusion of public safety but would in fact increase the likelihood of recidivism among people on the registry by drastically limiting their housing options and pushing them into homelessness. In addition, such laws further racial inequity in the criminal justice system.
In turn, HB 84 (and SB 52) would also make it hard for many individuals to comply because of difficulty ascertaining property lines. Ultimately, this legislation relies on fear tactics, does not improve public safety, and is harmful to those working to reenter society.