A Camper In The Woods: A Counselor’s Definition of “Housing Success”

A house with a yard and a white picket fence, a good neighborhood, a nice condo, an affordable apartment, a farm or a cabin on a hilltop. When it comes to housing we all want basically the same thing, a decent place to live.  But registrants are often left with few housing choices.

They are “literally” bound by imaginary boundary lines.

The exclusion zones, 100, 1,000 or 2,500 ft. buffer zones that exclude registrants from areas that some official somewhere has deemed “too unsafe” for all of them to be in regardless of their offense. This often leaves registrants out in the cold where housing is concerned. Housing for registrants isn’t easy to find nor is it always easy to keep.

So, I found it particularly disturbing when a sex offender group counselor suggested to one group that a lot of past group members had found” “housing success” by moving to a camper in the woods.


Moving to the woods, that’s what an educated counselor defines as “Housing Success”?

Are you kidding me? 

The point of sex offender therapy is to help registrants re-integrate back into society not to purposefully shun them and send them off to live in the woods.

This discussion had come about when a registrant mentioned that a lot of children were moving into his current neighborhood. The only issue he’d had in the past was the neighborhood kids saying “Hi”, and of course as a registrant, he had been advised by the group counselor to “ignore” any salutations from under age children.  In other words, if a child says “Hello”, act like a jerk with no manners and don’t respond.

This is the best advise counselors have to offer registrants, completely “ignore” an entire portion of the population?  And if you have a problem with that a viable option is to go live in the woods?

Really, is this the kind of education that counselors are getting in college these days?   

This particular registrant was actually considering moving rather than ending up looking like the neighborhood jerk by ignoring the basic pleasantries of “Hi”, Hello”, Goodbye” etc. that the registry deems so “unsafe” for registrants to participate in. (I would love to see one shred of evidence that a basic common courtesy like a “Hello” by a registrant caused harm to someone.)

Now, to be fair, I’ll say that maybe for some folks in this situation, moving might be a necessary evil. Everyone’s situation, everyone’s offense history is different.  Some registrants may have a safety plan that they feel might be jeopardized by having a lot of kids trying to interact with them.  For some, maybe moving is something to consider. As I said, everyone’s situation is different.

But then it comes down to “where do you move to?” It isn’t always easy to locate housing.

It’s hard for registrants to find housing that is within the appropriate colored areas of those elusive “registry boundary maps”. Can’t live in the red area, school buffer zone, green areas are greenway and park zones, purple are daycare buffers, the colors, the lines, the divisions, they go on and on until they are just a blur that covers the entire map. Often there is no where else to go.

If you look at the registry maps in most big cities, almost the entire downtown metropolitan area is “off limits” to registrants for housing and jobs. Of course that’s also the area where businesses, restaurants, factories, any place you might actually find a “good job” are located.


I think not.

What the maps show you couldn’t be any plainer if they were flashing billboards, “registrants are not welcome here”.

Now, if you are someone who actually wants to live in a camper in the woods, there’s no judgement here, people should be able to live where and how they want to live.

But to suggest that registrants get a camper and go live in the woods as being the key to registrant “housing success” is at best, just plain creepy and at worst, the epitomy of, hmm, can we say banishment, exclusion, isolation, exhile, ostracism.? 

If society doesn’t view registrants as scary enough already, let’s just make them look a bit creepier by sending them to live alone in the woods in a camper!

And the counselor’s irrational thinking-

“Out of an abundance of caution, it’s for their own safety, of course.”





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