A major push to crack down on sex offenders in recent years may be backfiring in states whereprogressively strict housing rules are coming under court challenge and making it harder for lawenforcement to track those convicted of rape, child molesting and similar crimes. Laws in at leasta half dozen states, including California, Georgia and Iowa, barring sex offenders from living nearschools and parks are being legally challenged by ex-offenders who claim the lawsunconstitutionally penalize them after they have already served their time. Such laws also areraising alarms among law enforcers, who fear sexual predators will be harder to track because theyhave no place to live.

Lawmakers in Kansas last month decided against adopting strict residency restrictions afterreviewing evidence that neighboring Iowa's zoning law had doubled the number of sex offendersunaccounted for since the law took effect in 2005. Iowa prosecutors and law enforcement officialsare pushing the state legislature to repeal the statue, which makes it illegal for sex offenders tolive within 2,000 feet of schools or child-care centers.

22 States Restrict Where Sex Offenders Live (source: California Research Bureau):

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana,Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,Washington and West Virginia