Summary Methodology Recommendations Sexual violence in the United States Sex offender registration laws Public access to information on sex offenders Sex offender laws and child offenders Consequences of registration and community notification laws for registrants and their loved ones Residency restriction laws Human rights and sex offender laws Conclusion.
No Easy Answers is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender registration, community notification and residency restriction laws, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. It concludes the laws are poorly crafted and misguided, failing to protect children from sex crimes but making it nearly impossible for former offenders to rebuild their lives. In many states, everyone convicted of a sex crime must register and the requirement can last for life. The requirements are overbroad in scope and overlong in duration. As a result, there are more than 600,000 registered sex offenders, including individuals convicted of sexual sex between teenagers, prostitution, and public urination, as well as those who committed their only offenses decades ago. Unfettered public access to online sex offender registries exposes registrants to harassment, ostracism, and even violence, with little evidence that this form of community notification protects anyone from sexual violence. Residency restrictions prohibit former offenders from living within a designated distance (anywhere from 500 to 2,500 feet) from places where children gather. The restrictions have the effect of banishing former offenders from entire towns, forcing them to live far from home, families, jobs, and treatment, and hindering law-enforcement supervision. The restrictions may have no impact on the likelihood of recidivism. Sex offender laws reflect public concern that children are at grave risk of sexual abuse by strangers who are repeat offenders. The real risks children face are quite different: statistics demonstrate that most sexual abuse of children is committed by family members or persons known and often trusted by the victim, and by someone who has not previously been convicted of a sex offense. The laws also reflect the widely shared but erroneous belief that sex offenders continually repeat their offenses. Authoritative studies, however, indicate that three out of four adult offenders do not reoffend.
Caption title. "September 2007." "The report was written by Sarah Tofte with the assistance of Jamie Fellner."--P. 1.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references.