Atlantic Crossings: The Emergence of the Sexual Offender Problem and Its Management on Both Sides of the Pond

Suzette Cote, California State University, Sacramento
Nora Demleitner, Hofstra University School of Law
Eric Janus, William Mitchell College of Law
Bill Hebenton, University of Manchester
Terry Thomas, Leeds Metropolitan University

Governments in both the USA and the UK have wrestled in recent years with 'the problem' of sexual offenders and how to control and manage such offenders. Over the last decade, policymakers have developed regulatory strategies to enhance public protection, ranging from registers and community notification to extended sentences of imprisonment. Often criminal justice regulation has been supplemented by civil law measures, and increasingly involves treatment programmes. On both sides of the Atlantic these developments have taken place against a backdrop of heightened mass media interest in sex crimes and a seeming public anxiety and intolerance of such offending. Debates about effectiveness and the civil liberties implications of policies are now widespread in the criminological literature. All the participants in this roundtable have researched and written extensively about policy and practice issues relating to the regulation of sexual offenders.

The themes of the roundtable are twofold:

a) To analyse, compare and discuss the nature and trajectory of policy developments in the USA and Europe.

b) To reflect upon the broader social and cultural contexts within which these developments have taken place and seek to identify both the particularities and common issues across the Atlantic.

The roundtable is organized to permit maximum time for discussion. There will be short introductory presentations by participants on the identified themes (10 minues per presentation), to be followed by roundtable discussions. It is hoped that the roundtable can act as an impetus for the development of a collaborative international research study.

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Updated 05/20/2006