Homeless Shelters’ Policies on Sex Offenders: Is This Another Collateral Consequence?

Check out the latest article by Shawn M. Rolfe, Richard Tewksbury, and Ryan D. Schroeder in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 

Abstract

The primary focus of sex offender research has been on the efficacy and collateral consequences of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) and residence restrictions. Past scholarship has found these laws to cause numerous re-entry barriers for sex offenders. Such barriers have affected sex offenders’ ability to find and maintain housing, employment, and social support. Moreover, registered sex offenders (RSOs) have become homeless due to such laws. Although previous scholarship has highlighted the collateral consequences of SORN, there is a lack of scholarship addressing homeless sex offenders. Specifically, the current study assesses policies regarding RSO access to homeless shelters in a four-state region, focusing on the effect of structural, procedural, and geographic factors, as well as a shelter’s proximity to children. Drawing on the loose coupling organizational framework, the findings suggest that a small maximum occupancy, unwritten policies for RSOs, being in Kentucky or Tennessee, being located near a school, and being near a higher proportion of homes with children all decrease the odds that a homeless shelter allows RSOs. Furthermore, although unwilling to make exceptions to the policies regarding RSOs, shelters were generally willing to make exceptions to other policies governing shelter accessibility.