New Mobile App Helps Sex Offenders Stay Away from Designated Safety Zones
This article provides an overview of sex offender registration requirements in the United States. Also, it provides a review of a new app that helps registered citizens comply with sex offender safety zones.
There are close to 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. The federal law is known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). It requires states to monitor and track offenders who are released into the community. It is a federal crime to knowingly fail to register with the state authority or to fail to check-in with the state authority at the required times.
Registered Offenders Must Abide by Certain Rules
Each registered individual has to abide by a certain set of rules for a period ranging from five years to the rest of their life. Rules vary based on the severity of the offense and depending on the state where the offender resides.
Under SORNA, there are three tiers of offenses.
- Tier 1 offenses are basically people who are first-time offenders. These people must register for 15 years.
- Tier 2 offenders include people who commit crimes such as offenses against minors and also sex trafficking. They must register for a period of 25 years.
- Tier 3 is the most serious, as it involves the element of kidnapping, aggravated abuse and involves a minor. They must register for life.
In addition to registering, rules they must follow may include:
- Complete a formal, state-approved treatment program
- Have their residence (home, apartment, etc.) approved by the state authority
- Make regular check-ins with law enforcement or a probation officer
- Notify law enforcement if moving to another location
- Avoid loitering in are areas where children tend to congregate, such as a school, daycare, parks, playgrounds, etc. These areas are called by various names, such as sex offender safety zones, danger zones, buffer zones, and others. In addition, they are also known as “exclusion zones”.
- Avoid access to the internet, social media, discussion groups, chat rooms, etc.
Avoiding Areas Where Children Congregate: Sex Offender Safety Zones
In most states, sex offenders aren’t allowed to loiter within a certain number of feet (often 1000 feet) of a school, daycare, playground, or park – anywhere children tend to congregate. Sex offenders can travel within those areas, but they cannot loiter, hang around, or even sleep on a bench. If the police find a registered sex offender loitering within the distance set by local laws, they will immediately arrest the individual. The arrest is considered a violation of probation and the individual may be sent back to jail.
The problem for sex offenders is – they don’t always know when they are within the “child safety zone” or exclusion zone. They may be unknowingly violating the law, putting themselves and the community in danger.
New Mobile App: SO Zones
In early 2018, a registered sex offender thought of a way to help keep himself safe from accidentally wandering into one of these safety zones, close to a school, daycare, playground, or park. So, he hired a team of app developers and engineers to develop a database-driven mobile app to help keep himself aware of his location at all times.
The mobile app uses a phone’s real-time GPS tracking capability and a database of more than 200,000 schools, daycares, and parks across the country. Whenever the phone is within a certain number of feet of one of those locations, the phone gives an audible alert and vibrates. The app takes into account local laws on required distances so it helps keep you safe no matter where you are.
Mobile App Features
The application is relatively new, but already has an impressive array of useful features:
- Real-time Map Location Display – The app leverages Google Maps to pinpoint your exact location on a map, in real-time.
- Database of Safety Zones – The app has a database of more than 200,000 schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, and more.
- Real-Time Alert Notifications – When you’re near, or within, a SO safety zone, the app notifies you with both sound and vibration, The app notifies the user with sound and vibration alerts when in the proximity of a safety zone.
- Compatible With Most Devices – Designed to work with all major devices
- Additional Resources – In addition to its handy alert functionality, the app has helpful information on local treatment centers, lawyers, and more.
- Secure Platform – The platform does not collect, track, or store information on any of its users.
- Fast and Reliable – The maps track your location in real-time to help keep you out of danger zones no matter where you go.
The SO Zones app is updated regularly with new safety zone locations, changes to local laws and ordinances, available housing options, local attorneys, and other resources.
Learn More and Download the Sex Offender Safety Zones App, SO Zones
The app is compatible with most phones. Make sure you have Location Services enabled on your device. You must be 17 or older to download the app.
If you use the app and find it useful, rate it on iTunes and Google Play. This will help others learn about it and give it a try.
I think the SO Zones app is a brilliant idea. It helps keep sex offenders out of trouble by helping them avoid areas where they shouldn’t be. At the same time, it helps keep the community more safe. It is also a benefit to law enforcement as it helps sex offenders to stay out of these critical areas and out of trouble.
In addition, the app could prove useful to probation officers and parole officers who have an interest in keeping their parolees out of trouble.
I look forward to seeing future enhancements and upgrades.
If you have any questions or comments about the Sex Offender Safety Zone app, please post a comment below. Also, check out my other articles on Personal Safety.