Research on the Impact of Registration and Notification

Creating evidence–based policies in the sex offender management arena requires an understanding about what is currently known about sex offenders, victims, and the impact of sex offender management strategies. For the core components of an integrated and comprehensive approach to managing sex offenders (e.g., treatment, supervision), there is evidence—albeit to greater and lesser degrees—that some strategies seem to “work” to enhance public safety and to facilitate positive offender outcomes. Unfortunately, empirical analyses of sex offender–specific policy analyses are very limited, and remain a critical need in the overall sex offender management field. Thus far, only a handful of studies have begun to address the impact of registration and community notification on sex offender management. Below is a summary of the limited research and the questions that they were designed to answer:

The primary goal of registration and community notification—to promote community safety by increasing the visibility of convicted sex offenders in the community—is laudable. Indeed, enhancing community safety is the thread that connects all stakeholders involved in the management of adult and juvenile sex offenders. Unfortunately, very limited research has been conducted to identify the extent to which registration and notification approaches are achieving that goal.

Summary

The key to ensuring community safety, whether via treatment or supervision interventions, reentry practices, or sex offender–specific legislation, is to make well–informed decisions based on the best available research.

As emphasized throughout this protocol, the key to ensuring community safety, whether via treatment or supervision interventions, reentry practices, or sex offender–specific legislation, is to make well–informed decisions based on the best available research. Therefore, policymakers and agency administrators are well–advised to conduct cost–benefit analyses of their current registration and notification strategies. Ideally, this would be operationalized through specific requirements and dedicated funding for outcome evaluations that investigate the short–and long–term impact of these policies, both in terms of effects on recidivism and impact on key stakeholders (e.g., law enforcement, citizens, victims, sex offenders, and families).

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