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Trying to find housing after leaving prison


There are very few crimes in which someone in New Jersey will continue to be punished long after he or she is released from prison. Once a sentence is served, a former offender is free to go and to start his or her life over. For people convicted of sex crimes, however, they often are ordered to join the New Jersey sex offender registry, which makes public their crimes, their home addresses and their places of employment. And with the way in which many people in the public react to sex offenders, even former offenders who have been released, it is no wonder that it is hard to find housing and employment following release.

There is also a problem that is sometimes unique to sex offenders: some cities and municipalities restrict where former offenders can live, work and commute. They may not be able to be within a certain distance of schools, parks or businesses that often serve juvenile clients. They may even be prohibited from living within a certain distance from other former offenders. In smaller towns, this can make for a very restricted space in which they can live.

These kinds of laws and restrictions are across the country, which also can make it difficult for former offenders to move out of the state and establish a life in an area in which they are not known.

Of course, there are some who would say that the New Jersey sex offender registry protects people by warning them where former offenders live. The problem is, however, that not all people will reoffend, but a great number of people on the registry may face harassment and unstable working and living conditions. It is a tricky path to navigate between protecting people and protecting the privacy of people who formerly offended.

Source: Time, "Alabama Shuts Down Church's Sex Offender Housing," July 1, 2014

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