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Surveys on sex offender policy

Surveys on sex offender policy

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York This study examines the public perception of sex offender policies and the perceived impact of sex offender policies on the sex offenders themselves. Data are collected from participants from a nationwide online community message board. Furthermore, the major- ity of the participants also do not believe that housing restriction statutes are effective in reducing sexual recidivism.

Findings from this study are dis- cussed as they pertain to public policy and sex offender reintegration. Consequently, various sex offender social policies have been implemented, such as registration and notification laws, and more recently housing restrictions laws. However, there remains controversy about how such legislation can be implemented to find the balance between the rights of sex offenders and the rights of the community.

Registration and Notification Laws In , year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped and to date remains miss- ing. The authors wish to thank Dr. Jill Levenson for her helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

In all 50 states, sex offenders who meet the registration crite- ria are required to register on release, parole, supervised release, or probation Jacob Wetterling Act, The length of registration varies from state to state depending on the characteristics of the offense and type of offender and ranges from 10 years to lifetime registration.

Even though the Jacob Wetterling Act was enacted in , it was not until the Law was amended in that the public became familiar with registered sex offenders following the sexual assault and murder of Megan Kanka by a convicted sex offender.

The sex offender community notification procedure is a multifaceted process that includes the collaborative effort between criminal justice practitioners and law enforcement agencies to decide which sex offenders meet the criteria for notifica- tion.

The act requires states to maintain and post infor- mation regarding sex offenders on their sex offender registry Web sites, linking them to the National Sex Offender Registry Web site.

All states need to come into compliance with the act by the year or they will lose state funding Adam Walsh Act, Such statutes vary among jurisdictions both in dis- tance imposed and terminology. Redlich sampled community members, law enforce- ment officials, and law students in an effort to examine the community perception of the effectiveness of notification law in preventing child sexual abuse.

The results suggested that law enforcement officials held the highest support for notification laws, whereas law students held the lowest support, with community members falling in the middle.

Also noteworthy, a small but significant negative correlation was found between knowledge of child sexual abuse and support for community notification, suggesting that less knowledge yielded more support for the policy Redlich, Overall, the authors found very low general knowledge of notifica- tion law, although specific knowledge was demonstrated better among the sample, with media exposure and attention increasing the level of specific knowledge of community notification laws Proctor et al.

The authors also found the respondents to be highly supportive of notification laws, as well as maintaining a strong belief in the effectiveness of notification law in protecting society. The majority of citizens reported that they are more vigilant of their surroundings because of community notification and felt the law was very important or somewhat important.

Impact of Policies on Sex Offenders Several recent studies have explored the impact of sex offender policies on the sex offenders themselves. Findings from Tewksbury and Lees suggest that although registered sex offenders see potential for registration legislation to reduce reoffending, they have serious concerns about the efficacy and application of such laws, namely, their application to all sex offenders as a homogenous group.

Furthermore, registration and notification policies may actually increase recidivism by stigmatizing, isolating, and alienating offenders. Tewksbury and Lees also found reports of relationship problems, employment difficulties, and persistent feelings of stigma and vulnerability by sex offenders. In a recent review of the collateral consequences of a Georgia statute that restricts registered sex offenders from residing, being employed, or loitering within 1, feet of a school, child care facility, church, park, recreation facilities, or school bus stop, Tewksbury concluded that registered sex offenders would experience persistent stress because they would be unable to find housing.

Furthermore, he postulated that as a result of this legislation, sex offenders may abscond from supervision or fail to reg- ister, and in the worst-case scenario, the increasing levels of stress would lead to recidivism Tewksbury, Moreover, some argue that vigilantism, coupled with barriers to employment, and the perception that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated may actually amplify deviance and hinder protection measures West, In addition, sex offenders described that such experiences hindered them from engaging in activities and decreased their chances to live a nor- mal life.

After 3 months of excellent work in a new career I was released because my employer found out about my record. Experiences such as this have led critics to argue that such policies are doing more harm than good and may in fact be counterproductive. Forty-three percent of the sample reported job loss and over half reported they lost a friend as a result of registration.

Zevitz and Farkas interviewed 30 sex offenders to examine the impact of the notification policy. Finally, the majority of respondents reported that notification laws cause more stress in their lives Mercado et al. In addition, the authors reported that sex offenders perceived that residence restrictions prohibited them from supportive con- tact with their families, who may live within the residence restriction zone.

Currently, there is no research exploring public attitudes toward the impact of such policies on sex offenders, specifically regarding issues such as reintegration, stigma, vigilantism, sex offender rights, and the rewards and consequences of such policies.

The following study attempts to fill this void by further examining community perception and atti- tude toward sex offender registration and notification, and residence restrictions. As the goal of sex offender legislation is to protect the public from harm, they are major stakeholders in the implementation and application of such policies. The objectives of this study were threefold: Method Participants were sampled from several major metropolitan cities in the United States via an Internet-based community message board.

Every 7 days the survey was posted in a different major city. Every effort was made to represent each geographic region equally. The sample consisted of community members from 15 states.

Demographic characteristics of the sample are presented in Table 1. Participants were also asked to describe their occupation. The majority reported working in the banking, business, administrative, and corporate sector. A second major occupa- tional theme was composed of those who were unemployed, retired, and disabled. Demographic information that might have affected the vari- ables of interest in this study such as age, gender, ethnicity, number of children, occupation, and household income was collected.

This survey was constructed by the authors to explore what persons know about sex offender registration and notification laws and from what source they received this information.

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Surveys on sex offender policy

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York This study examines the public perception of sex offender policies and the perceived impact of sex offender policies on the sex offenders themselves. Data are collected from participants from a nationwide online community message board. Furthermore, the major- ity of the participants also do not believe that housing restriction statutes are effective in reducing sexual recidivism.

Findings from this study are dis- cussed as they pertain to public policy and sex offender reintegration. Consequently, various sex offender social policies have been implemented, such as registration and notification laws, and more recently housing restrictions laws. However, there remains controversy about how such legislation can be implemented to find the balance between the rights of sex offenders and the rights of the community.

Registration and Notification Laws In , year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped and to date remains miss- ing. The authors wish to thank Dr. Jill Levenson for her helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript. In all 50 states, sex offenders who meet the registration crite- ria are required to register on release, parole, supervised release, or probation Jacob Wetterling Act, The length of registration varies from state to state depending on the characteristics of the offense and type of offender and ranges from 10 years to lifetime registration.

Even though the Jacob Wetterling Act was enacted in , it was not until the Law was amended in that the public became familiar with registered sex offenders following the sexual assault and murder of Megan Kanka by a convicted sex offender. The sex offender community notification procedure is a multifaceted process that includes the collaborative effort between criminal justice practitioners and law enforcement agencies to decide which sex offenders meet the criteria for notifica- tion.

The act requires states to maintain and post infor- mation regarding sex offenders on their sex offender registry Web sites, linking them to the National Sex Offender Registry Web site. All states need to come into compliance with the act by the year or they will lose state funding Adam Walsh Act, Such statutes vary among jurisdictions both in dis- tance imposed and terminology. Redlich sampled community members, law enforce- ment officials, and law students in an effort to examine the community perception of the effectiveness of notification law in preventing child sexual abuse.

The results suggested that law enforcement officials held the highest support for notification laws, whereas law students held the lowest support, with community members falling in the middle.

Also noteworthy, a small but significant negative correlation was found between knowledge of child sexual abuse and support for community notification, suggesting that less knowledge yielded more support for the policy Redlich, Overall, the authors found very low general knowledge of notifica- tion law, although specific knowledge was demonstrated better among the sample, with media exposure and attention increasing the level of specific knowledge of community notification laws Proctor et al.

The authors also found the respondents to be highly supportive of notification laws, as well as maintaining a strong belief in the effectiveness of notification law in protecting society. The majority of citizens reported that they are more vigilant of their surroundings because of community notification and felt the law was very important or somewhat important.

Impact of Policies on Sex Offenders Several recent studies have explored the impact of sex offender policies on the sex offenders themselves. Findings from Tewksbury and Lees suggest that although registered sex offenders see potential for registration legislation to reduce reoffending, they have serious concerns about the efficacy and application of such laws, namely, their application to all sex offenders as a homogenous group.

Furthermore, registration and notification policies may actually increase recidivism by stigmatizing, isolating, and alienating offenders. Tewksbury and Lees also found reports of relationship problems, employment difficulties, and persistent feelings of stigma and vulnerability by sex offenders.

In a recent review of the collateral consequences of a Georgia statute that restricts registered sex offenders from residing, being employed, or loitering within 1, feet of a school, child care facility, church, park, recreation facilities, or school bus stop, Tewksbury concluded that registered sex offenders would experience persistent stress because they would be unable to find housing.

Furthermore, he postulated that as a result of this legislation, sex offenders may abscond from supervision or fail to reg- ister, and in the worst-case scenario, the increasing levels of stress would lead to recidivism Tewksbury, Moreover, some argue that vigilantism, coupled with barriers to employment, and the perception that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated may actually amplify deviance and hinder protection measures West, In addition, sex offenders described that such experiences hindered them from engaging in activities and decreased their chances to live a nor- mal life.

After 3 months of excellent work in a new career I was released because my employer found out about my record. Experiences such as this have led critics to argue that such policies are doing more harm than good and may in fact be counterproductive. Forty-three percent of the sample reported job loss and over half reported they lost a friend as a result of registration.

Zevitz and Farkas interviewed 30 sex offenders to examine the impact of the notification policy. Finally, the majority of respondents reported that notification laws cause more stress in their lives Mercado et al. In addition, the authors reported that sex offenders perceived that residence restrictions prohibited them from supportive con- tact with their families, who may live within the residence restriction zone. Currently, there is no research exploring public attitudes toward the impact of such policies on sex offenders, specifically regarding issues such as reintegration, stigma, vigilantism, sex offender rights, and the rewards and consequences of such policies.

The following study attempts to fill this void by further examining community perception and atti- tude toward sex offender registration and notification, and residence restrictions.

As the goal of sex offender legislation is to protect the public from harm, they are major stakeholders in the implementation and application of such policies.

The objectives of this study were threefold: Method Participants were sampled from several major metropolitan cities in the United States via an Internet-based community message board. Every 7 days the survey was posted in a different major city. Every effort was made to represent each geographic region equally.

The sample consisted of community members from 15 states. Demographic characteristics of the sample are presented in Table 1. Participants were also asked to describe their occupation. The majority reported working in the banking, business, administrative, and corporate sector. A second major occupa- tional theme was composed of those who were unemployed, retired, and disabled.

Demographic information that might have affected the vari- ables of interest in this study such as age, gender, ethnicity, number of children, occupation, and household income was collected. This survey was constructed by the authors to explore what persons know about sex offender registration and notification laws and from what source they received this information.

Surveys on sex offender policy

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  1. In fact, in Illinois from through , females were those most often arrested for child molestation and fondling Sample, , likely an artifact of the time women spend with children and their child caring functions in society. Overall, the authors found very low general knowledge of notifica- tion law, although specific knowledge was demonstrated better among the sample, with media exposure and attention increasing the level of specific knowledge of community notification laws Proctor et al.

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