Sex offender residence restrictions in Chicago: An environmental injustice?

Lorine A. Hughes, Keri B. Burchfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Guided by an environmental justice perspective of public policy, this study combines child sex offender registry information with US Census and geospatial data to examine the extent to which differences in the physical structure of Chicago neighborhoods (N = 872) affect the efficacy and fairness of the city's sex offender residence restrictions. Findings from mapping and regression analyses show that, because of differences in neighborhood size and the spatial distribution of prohibited sites (i.e., parks, schools, and daycares), Chicago's 500-foot rule restricts the available residential space for child sex offenders to a much greater extent in disadvantaged neighborhoods (n = 175) than in affluent neighborhoods (n =130). The data also indicate, however, that despite legal proscriptions, child sex offenders continue several years after residence restrictions were first imposed to concentrate in disadvantaged neighborhoods and in relatively close proximity to prohibited sites. Implications for the offenders and communities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-673
Number of pages27
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Chicago
  • Child sex offenders
  • Environmental justice
  • Sex offender residence restrictions
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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