The General Deterrent Effects of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws in the United States

Jeffery T. Walker, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Sean Maddan, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Amy VanHouten, University at Albany

In the middle of the 1990's, the United States passed a series of laws to deal with the threat of sex offenders to the public. The solution for the problem of sex offenders were found in sex offender registration and notification laws. Even though research on sex offender laws is relatively sparse, one aspect of these laws that has been neglected is the deterrent properties of such legislation. Utilizing an interrupted time series design, this research examines the general deterrent effects of these sex offender laws. Utilizing monthly data obtained from the U.C.R. on the offenses of forcible rape and all other sex offenses, this research examines (when possible) each state five years prior to the enactment of sex offender laws and five years after. Policy implications are also discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006