Patty Wetterling, child safety advocate and former chair of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, will deliver the keynote address at the Mitchell Hamline Law Journal of Public Policy and Practice Symposium on Thursday, Feb. 28.
Through panel discussions and presentations, the daylong symposium—titled “Residency Restrictions: Wise or Unwise?”—will explore issues surrounding residency restrictions for sex offenders and how those offenders can be reintegrated into communities in Minnesota and across the country.
Symposium editor Sheila Francois, a 3L at Mitchell Hamline, hopes the event sparks conversation about statutes related to residency restrictions—from their overall effectiveness to how they change housing choices for offenders who’ve finished treatment or been released from jail. “We will talk about whether these laws are smart, legal, and productive,” she says.
Wetterling, whose work in child safety advocacy began in the wake of her son Jacob’s kidnapping nearly three decades ago, will use her keynote address to discuss work being done to identify comprehensive treatment and policies that prevent sex offenders from reoffending.
“Most of these people get locked up for a short time, then they get released,” she says. “How can we make them succeed so there are no more victims?”
Professor Eric Janus, a national expert on sexual violence law and policy, will moderate one of the panel discussions on Minnesota’s complex patchwork of municipal and local laws related to sex offenders. Janus points to solid empirical evidence that shows laws that banish people convicted of sex offenses from certain parts of a community can be counterproductive.
“We all ought to be working on a system that insures that the shared task of reintegration is comprehensive and coordinated,” he said.
The program has been approved for 5 standard CLE credits. Attendance certificates will be provided at the symposium for CEU, Marriage and Family Counseling, and LPPC credits.