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Sex Offender Registries: Fear without Function? A Study

Abstract: I use three separate data sets and designs to determine whether sex offender registries are effective.

First, I use state-level panel data to determine whether sex offender registries and public access to them decrease the rate of rape and other sexual abuse.

Second, I use a data set that contains information on the subsequent arrests of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 in 15 states to determine whether registries reduce the recidivism rate of offenders required to register compared with the recidivism of those who are not.

Finally, I combine data on locations of crimes in Washington, D.C., with data on locations of registered sex offenders to determine whether knowing the locations of sex offenders in a region helps predict the locations of sexual abuse.

The results from all three data sets do not support the hypothesis that sex offender registries are effective tools for increasing public safety.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658483

Join the discussion

  1. alert

    Here they go again, confusing a perfectly good argument with facts!

  2. Bluewall

    I like this part” Further, for registered offenders, already being on a registry eliminates the possible deterrent effect of having to register for committing a sex crime. So again the opportunity cost of committing another sex offense is lowered because the offender is already experiencing the costs of reintegration and will continue to do so whether or not he reoffends. Prentsky, Knight, and Lee (1997, p. 9) reflect the opinion that community notification may increase recidivism through increased stress caused to offenders by “threats of bodily harm, termination of employment, on-the-job harassment, and forced instability of residence,” all of which were experienced by at least some offenders in the surveys of Levenson and Cotter (2005) and Zevitz and Farkas (2000). A similar conclusion is reached by Prescott and Rockoff (2009), who find evidence that recidivism rates of registered offenders may be higher rather than lower after community notification is instituted.” To bad this info is from 2011 and no one bother to acknowledge it on a professional level like the government..

    • BillG (feeling better now)

      The author completely ignores the purpose of Sex Offender Registries.

      The Registries were not implemented to decrease child sexual assault. They were designed and introduced to afford American society an engineered object for the absorption of hate.

      We learned from the civil rights movement that government cannot legislate morality and there will always be an extreme fringe ready to commit mayhem in the name of racial superiority or privilege.
      We learned from the failure of religion to provide a stable, enduring society for all mankind and now our popular conflict continues in the name of various religions and their styles of worship.
      We learned that American society could benefit from good engineering practice in that when you have a machine that generates heat, you need a way to safely relieve the pressure that heat produces. Nuclear electric plants suffer from poor design in this regard to the detriment of the entire world.

      The Sex Offender Registries are a social experiment conducted by an adolescent populace under the tutelage of a misguided professor. The purpose of the Sex Offender Registries is to provide a metric for the tectonic force of hatred by providing a safe object, a lodestone if you will, into which that hatred and it’s energy may be directed.
      We stand to learn much from this enterprise. Ultimately, the Registries will be removed because they really do produce more harm than they prevent. But until then, this “experiment” in social engineering will just have to run it’s course. Pretty much everyone is distressed by the evolution of the “mission-creep” that the Registries embody.
      It would seem that the only people not bothered are the ones not registered.

      The Sex Offender Registries are an experiment to see if government in the name of the terrified can engineer social control of the population. If they can design Sex Offender Registries that function as they do, they can use the precedent and systemic outline to generate registries for any class of behavior they so desire.

      What is needed is a careful analysis of the evolution of the Registries with special attention given to the motivations that prompted each amplification of the severity of control. Such analysis needs to be employed to refute the assumption that increased pressure on a social subset (Sex Offender in this instance) results in social benefit.

      The current social benefit of the Registries consists of: a false sense of security in single mothers; a vehicle for delusional males to vent their anger by homicide (murder a Sex Offender, get a lollypop); a mule for despotic petty politicians to ride; and a means to raise local police revenue by charging a fee for compliance.
      That is all.
      Nothing else.

      Would that our astute academics tilt at windmills.
      The Study promoting my comment does not address the issue.

  3. Fat Albert

    I will “re-state” the above mentioned true purpose of the sex offender registries with my own input “in parentheses.”
    They provide a false sense of security for single mothers. ( Not to mention an excuse for control-freak helicopter-parents – both Moms AND Dads – to keep their poor hapless children locked inside the house 24 hrs a day, weekend or not!!! Only in the projects are kids now allowed to play on and ride their bikes down the streets, due to the mostly suburban paranoia generated by our classist sex offender registration systems. All under the false banner of “protecting the innocents!!!” GONE are the days of kids and young teens playing out in the junk yard! GONE are the days of kids – particularly little girls in our patriarchical society – being allowed to ride their bicycles down the public streets or being allowed – even by Law Enforcement! – to go to a nearby park without parental supervision! Children’s entertainment places no longer allow kids to enter their establishments without their parents in tow! And GONE are the days of “puppy-love” and teens “making out” at the drive-in movie theaters ( that’s a FELONY in today’s zero-tolerance society!!! A felony that requires lifetime “pedophile registration!!!” ). 2. A vehicle for delusional males ( ? ) to commit murder by killing sex offenders. ( I don’t know about “delusional” males. But “self righteous” men for sure! Fire and brimstone “fundamentalists” of the southern babtist genre are NOTORIOUS for “ridding the town” of percieved “sodomites” who might develop a thing for their perdy young daughters!!! ) A “mule” for despotic politicians to ride. ( I have stated, time and time again, that the similarities between the sex offender registries and Hitler’s “registration systems” are at very least ALARMING. Even the surviving “holocaust survivors” are alarmed by these “similarities!” At first, the Hitler’s “registries” were a nasty “list of shame” for those who were deemed “unfit to LIVE in decent communities! Then, it turned into the infamous “Nazi round-up list!!!!” Only TIME will tell if the sex offender registries will turn into “round-up lists”, as well! For those who don’t think that that scenario is possible, I’ll just have you Google … “FEMA camps.” I’ll just leave it at that.) And 3. A means of generating “revenue” for the police. ( That’s true. Police are making one VERY sweet living enforcing the new sex offender laws. But it’s the politicians are making MILLIONS of dollars a year, thanks to ALL this new what I call “Punching Bag Legislation!!! )
    Just HOW paranoid are parents thanks to the new “scare tactic registries?” In America, one cannot drive down the street without being “struck” by the absence of children and teens riding their bicycles and skateboards, and how EMPTY the school-yards and basketball courts are after school! Today’s kids ( particularly little girls ) aren’t even allowed to sit on their own front DOORSTEPS due to mostly imaginary “stranger danger!!!
    And due to Datelne NBC’s “Predator Series”, most kids and teens are no longer allowed to have any kind of electronic media ( PCs, LapTops, iPhones, etc,… ). TOO DANGEROUS!!! Thanks a LOT Chris Hansen! Now childhood in America REALLY sucks! No more “childhood adventures.” No more baseball games after school! In Anerica, it will soon be as it is in Great Britain, where, by law, children and teens are no longer allowed outside the HOUSE, except when they’re in school or are accompanied by their parents!!! In many parts of the U.K., kids and teens can get “apprehended” just for riding their bicycles down the street!!! And like in many states in America, the parents often get charged with “wreckless child endangerment!!!” All in the name of “child safety!!!” Just imagine being a little 11 year old girl, who gets apprehended by one of those psycho neighborhood “vigilante moms” who interrogates you, DEMANDING to know why you’re not “with your parents!!! ( ??? ) Yet all you were trying to do was walk down to the Baskin Robins icecream shop just down the street!!! “Don’t you know that there’s PEDOPHILES everywhere?!!!?!?” ( The sharp, angry woman shouts!!! ) The next thing you know, you’re in the back seat of s big, scary POLICE CAR headed off to CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES!!!! And your parents?!?! To your horror, you learn that they are being charge with “grave child endangerment!!!” All because they let you walk down the street in your OWN NEIGHBORHOOD!!!! ( This has already happened in the state of Maryland! )
    Truth is, that the way things are NOW in the U.S, tomorrow’s children will grow up having absolutely NO idea what freedom is like! They won’t know that there’s “nothing wrong” with walking down the street by yourself! They will believe that only “pedophile enablers” let their kids play in parks, and that only “kidnapper-helpers” let their kids walk down their own neighborhood streets! And believe me, none of this is “by accident!!!” Welcome to the “police state.” They are paving the road to “police state hell” with “Child Safety.” Yet no one DARES to “speak out” for fear of being banished as a “pedophile enabler!” This is the kind of rage fueled panic driven hysteria that could take well over 100 YEARS for everyone to snap out of!!! In many ways, it’s far “worse” than the Salem witch trials, and the Spanish inquisition! Well, at least it’s not calling for the automatic “extermination” of all those accused of sexual misconduct. …. “YET!!!” ( I really don’t think it will be long before that changes! ) You see, the people of old Salem did not have an Internet to look up “accuse witches” on! T.V shows like Law and Order ” Special Victims Unit” have also increased public paranoia … alarmingly! The way things are right now, for kids in the U.S, being “grounded” is just the normal “way of life.” And the sex offender registries ( future “round up lists??? ) are continuing to get “rave reviews” by a public “seething with uncontrollable rage” over a false, percieved, media-touted “omnipresent threat” to their children’s safety!!! Yeah, we feel “free to speak out” against this injustice online, but in person, we know to keep our mouths SHUT!!! … Lest some member of the Mafia “overhear” us and have us “taken out” as a possible threat to THEIR children’s safety!!! And the MEDIA is always there to “expose” people who’s views prove too “offensive” to be tolerated!!! Sex offender issues are “dangerous territory!” BE CAREFUL!

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