Rethinking Sex Offender Laws Increasingly severe registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws have encountered little public opposition. Eleven states and the District of Columbia do not register any child offenders adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court. It's the rest of it that doesn't. Indeed, the limited research to date suggests the contrary: We conducted in-person interviews with youth sex offenders, as well as immediate family members of another 15, in those 20 states. These include not only differences in cognitive capacity, which affect their culpability, but also differences in their amenability to rehabilitation, in the nature of their sexual behaviors and offenses and in the likelihood that they will reoffend. Research also indicates that most adult offenders were not formerly youth offenders: The following strategies are being used in managing sex offenders who are under community supervision. Finally, we interviewed state officials responsible for enforcing sex offender laws, including probation and parole officers and county sheriffs.
When it was disclosed that consensual sexual contact had occurred, her parents pressed charges against Brandon and he was convicted of sexual assault and placed on the sex offender registry in his state. These rates are so low that they do not differ significantly from the sex crime rates found among many other and much larger groups of children, or even the general public. Juvenile Offenders In most states, children age 18 and younger who are convicted of sex offenses can be subject to registration, community notification, and residency restrictions. In , the last year for which official report data were available, there were 26, arrests for forcible rape and 90, arrests for other sex offenses in the United States. His mother now believes that some consideration should be given to sex offender registration requirements when the charge stems from a nonviolent act. A federal study of prisoners released in found that And contrary to common public perceptions, the empirical evidence suggests that putting youth offenders on registries does not advance community safety—including because it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness. Databases should indicate when the offense was committed, how long has passed since the registrant was released from incarceration, and contain both the registrant's and the victim's age at the time of the offense. We are convinced that public safety will be as protected, if not more so, by modified registration laws targeted only at former offenders who pose a high or medium risk of reoffending, as determined through an individualized risk assessment and classification process, and by community notification that is undertaken by law enforcement on a need-to-know basis. What Is Sexual Abuse? States that do maintain online registries should only include information about offenders assigned a high level of risk, and only for so long as they are individually determined to pose such a risk. For example, in Delaware in , there were approximately children on the sex offender registry, 55 of whom were under the age of Each year, there are approximately 2, arrests of juveniles for forcible rape and an estimated 9, arrests of juveniles for other types of sex offenses. I felt confused and shocked. Registrants should be able to present evidence of rehabilitation, change in life circumstances, incapacitation for example, disease or disability or substantial time without reoffense in order to terminate community notification requirements. In some cases, yes. I enrolled in college to study criminal justice, then switched to pre-law. The reasons why they offend, the kinds of interventions required to help them stop offending, and the risks they pose also vary. Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. Offenders whose victims were within the family recidivate at a significantly lower rate than offenders whose victims were outside of the family. When sex offenders do commit another crime, it is more often not sexual or violent. Congress and state legislatures should incorporate stronger prohibitions against and penalties for misuse of online registration and community notification information to harass, threaten, or injure registrants or their family members, or to discriminate unreasonably against registrants in the denial of housing, education, or other necessary benefits and services. The information compiled in this report is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of July 1, The DOJ study did not examine how many of these incidents involved an adult or youth offender. Who Are Offenders Likely to Target? Yet few public officials who have supported registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws have done so based on a careful assessment of the nature of sex crimes and the best way to prevent sexual violence. Corinne Carey, former researcher for the US Program, undertook the original research for this report.
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