I know how people feel about sex offenders.

I agree that sex crimes are reprehensible, especially those in which children are the victims.

Such offenders often face long prison sentences or long commitments inside mental health treatment centers. And rightfully so.

But after they are released from custody — after they have paid their dues to society — these offenders have rights just like any other American citizen. Among other things, they have a right to live wherever they choose.

I know that is difficult to hear.

Where sex offenders are concerned, people feel abhorred. People do not want to hear about sex offenders having rights. And people certainly do not want to live around sex offenders.

Whenever the subject comes up of local government restrictions on where these offenders can live, the popular response is: “We decent people should be able to keep sex offenders out of our community.”

That sort of reaction is common. In some ways, it is understandable.

It is also a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

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