Sex Offender Registries in Europe and Around the world

[ – 11/24/20]

We are pleased to publish new research by Stephen Schulhofer about the treatment of sex offense registration in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the EU. The research, presented here with an introduction by Alessandro Corda, comes from material prepared for inclusion in an upcoming draft of the Model Penal Code: Sexual Assault and Related Offenses (full citation and disclaimer below).

Introduction: An Important Look at Foreign Policy and Practices Regarding Sex-Offense Collateral Consequences

By Alessandro Corda, Lecturer in Law, Queen’s University Belfast School of Law

The American Law Institute’s ongoing project aimed at reforming the Model Penal Code provisions on sexual assault and related offenses includes within its reach not only substantive criminal law provisions, but also collateral consequences applicable specifically to persons convicted of a sexual offense, in particular sex offense registries.

Sex offense registration and notification laws are a quintessential example of a collateral consequence of conviction that flourished during the so-called “tough-on-crime era.” The first sex offense registries in the United States were enacted in the late 1940s as a way “to inform the police of the whereabouts of habitual sex offenders.” The idea soon lost favor to so-called sexual psychopath laws. By the 1970s, however, such laws had likewise lost approval, “either being repealed or widely ignored as ineffective and unjust policies” (Hoppe, 2016, p. 577; see also Rice Leave, 2009). Everything changed in the 1990s, following high profile cases of abduction and sexual torture of children in the context of a climate of raising punitiveness.

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