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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Crime and Urban Form
  • Volume 13 Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Sex Offenders, Residence Restrictions, Housing, and Urban Morphology: A Review and Synthesis

Tony H. Grubesic, Drexel University
Alan T. Murray, Elizabeth A. Mack, Arizona State University

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Although residence restrictions for convicted sex offenders are widely enforced in the United States, these policies remain controversial. Most restrictions are defined geographically, prohibiting convicted offenders from establishing a permanent residence within a prescribed distance from sensitive facilities like schools, parks, and bus stops. Proponents argue that residence restrictions protect families and children from sexual violence, but others argue that these policies can produce a variety of unintended social, economic, and geographic outcomes, such as reducing available housing, forcing offenders to cluster in socially disenfranchised neighborhoods, limiting access to rehabilitation facilities, and generating spillover effects to nearby communities. This article provides an overview of sex offender laws in the United States and synthesizes the literature pertaining to sex offender policies and their geographic implications for housing availability and affordability. This article also addresses the effects of urban morphology on sex offender policies and outcomes, and it ends with an agenda for future research.

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