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Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Authors:
  • New York State Office of Mental Health

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Despite the fact that the federal and many state governments have enacted registration and community notification laws as a means to better protect communities from sexual offending, limited empirical research has been conducted to examine the impact of such legislation on public safety. Therefore, utilizing time-series analyses, this study examined differences in sexual offense arrest rates before and after the enactment of New York State's Sex Offender Registration Act. Results provide no support for the effectiveness of registration and community notification laws in reducing sexual offending by: (a) rapists, (b) child molesters, (c) sexual recidivists, or (d) first-time sex offenders. Analyses also showed that over 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time sex offenders, casting doubt on the ability of laws that target repeat offenders to meaningfully reduce sexual offending. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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... Research exploring the efficacy of SORN policies has focused primarily on individual states, with a small number of studies examining multiple state effects (NCJA-SOMAPI, 2017). Within this research, with limited exceptions (Barnoski, 2005;Bierie, 2016;Duwe & Donnay, 2008;Freeman, 2012), little evidence of a SORN impact has been found for either first-time sexual offending or reoffending (Adkins et al., 2000;Agan, 2011;Maddan et al., 2011;Sandler et al., 2008;Schram & Milloy, 1995;Vasquez et al., 2008;Zgoba et al., 2008;Zgoba et al., 2010;Zgoba et al., 2018). ...
... The authors determined that individuals subjected to community notification were rearrested more quickly for new sexual offenses, compared with those offenders who were not subject to notification; however, overall recidivism rates between the two groups did not differ. Similar state studies in New Jersey and Iowa also found negligible results associated with SORN (Adkins et al., 2000;Tewksbury et al., 2012;Zgoba et al., 2008;Zgoba et al., 2010), while a time series analysis in New York found that 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time offenders (Sandler et al., 2008). Adkins et al. (2000) examined the effects of registration in Iowa. ...
... No significant differences were noted between the groups for both general and sexual reoffending. Sandler et al. (2008) utilized a time series analysis to examine differences in sexual offense arrest rates before and after the enactment of New York State's Sex Offender Registration Act. The authors found no support for the effectiveness of SORN laws in reducing sexual offending by rapists, child molesters, sexual recidivists, or first-time sex offenders. ...
Article
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Objectives Examine 25 years of Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) evaluations and their effects on recidivism. Methods We rely on methodology guidelines established by the Campbell Collaboration for meta-analyses to systematically synthesize results from 18 research articles including 474,640 formerly incarcerated individuals. We estimate the effect of SORN policies on recidivism from 42 effect sizes and determine if the effect of SORN varies by sexual or non-sexual recidivism when examining arrest or conviction as outcomes. Results The random-effects meta-analysis model demonstrated that SORN does not have a statistically significant impact on recidivism. This null effect exists when examining a combined model and when disaggregating studies by sexual or non-sexual offenses, or conceptualizing recidivism by arrest or conviction. Conclusions SORN policies demonstrate no effect on recidivism. This finding holds important policy implications given the extensive adoption and net-widening of penalties related to SORN.
... Although sex offender laws were designed to decrease sexual violence, there is evidence suggesting that not only are these laws largely ineffective in preventing sexual recidivism, but in some cases, they may increase the risk for reoffending (Calkins et al., 2014;Jeglic & Calkins, 2016;Levenson & Cotter, 2005;Sandler et al., 2008). Registration and community notification policies were originally created to combat predatory child sexual abuse; however, 95% of all sexual offenses are committed by those not on the registry (Sandler et al., 2008). ...
... Although sex offender laws were designed to decrease sexual violence, there is evidence suggesting that not only are these laws largely ineffective in preventing sexual recidivism, but in some cases, they may increase the risk for reoffending (Calkins et al., 2014;Jeglic & Calkins, 2016;Levenson & Cotter, 2005;Sandler et al., 2008). Registration and community notification policies were originally created to combat predatory child sexual abuse; however, 95% of all sexual offenses are committed by those not on the registry (Sandler et al., 2008). This suggests that current legislation is inaccurately allocating scarce resources to prevent sexual violence among released individuals convicted of sexual offenses when research indicates that it may be better spent on prevention efforts (Jeglic & Calkins, 2016;Letourneau et al., 2010;Sandler et al., 2008;Zevitz, 2006). ...
... Registration and community notification policies were originally created to combat predatory child sexual abuse; however, 95% of all sexual offenses are committed by those not on the registry (Sandler et al., 2008). This suggests that current legislation is inaccurately allocating scarce resources to prevent sexual violence among released individuals convicted of sexual offenses when research indicates that it may be better spent on prevention efforts (Jeglic & Calkins, 2016;Letourneau et al., 2010;Sandler et al., 2008;Zevitz, 2006). Since the enactment of SORNA, there has been no significant impact on total rates of sexual offending, rape or child molestation, in general, by first-time offenders, or by individuals previously convicted of sexual offenses (Ackerman et al., 2012;Mercado et al., 2008). ...
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Sex offender laws were designed to decrease sexual violence. The current mixed methods study examined attitudes and opinions of parole and probation officers who have supervised individuals convicted of sexual offenses (n = 361) regarding sex offender legislation and how these policies can be most effective in preventing recidivism. About half of the officers reported that registration and notification, sexually violent predator and Halloween laws were largely effective in preventing sexual victimization. Conversely, they perceived residence restriction laws and the tier system to be largely ineffective. A consistent theme that emerged from the qualitative responses was a movement away from blanket approaches towards a case-specific approach, tailoring the laws to individuals based upon their needs and risk level.
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... Many studies have recognised the potential for sexual offender laws and policies to increase, rather than decrease, recidivism by impeding individual access to reintegration opportunities (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010;Jennings et al., 2012;Letourneau & Armstrong, 2008;Prescott & Rockoff, 2011;Sandler et al., 2008;Wakefield, 2006). A subset of these works has similarly acknowledged the lack of empirical research demonstrating the proposed link between collateral consequences and recidivism (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010;Craun & Bierie, 2014). ...
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... Primary interventions focus on worldwide initiatives for the general population, secondary preventions focus on the perpetrator or an at-risk child, and tertiary preventions concentrate on the perpetrators who have already offended or children who have already been victims. With first-time offenders making up 95% of CSA cases (Sandler et al., 2008), and research suggesting that it can take up to 10 years before a perpetrator commits CSA (Piché et al., 2018), it appears that primary prevention has a more pivotal role in stopping OCSA. Law and legislation are a crucial part in helping this primary prevention. ...
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Online child sexual abuse is highly prevalent in current society, in part, due to how technologically advanced children and adults have become. While much of the focus has been on perpetrator intervention, it is prudent to consider responses safeguarding children from potential perpetrators. Therefore, this review aimed to identify all the available empirical research on the prevention methods linked to education and awareness to determine the approaches' effectiveness, successes, and failures to aid future interventions. Databases were systematically searched for studies published between 2000 to 2020. Nine studies providing different prevention methods for online child sexual abuse were selected. A total sample of n = 672 and a descriptive approach was used for this study. While the interventions seemed to improve knowledge retainment of online safety, there was no significant change for risky online behavior. These findings provide specific suggestions for future interventions, particularly those focusing on risky online behaviors.
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A controversial part of the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) mandates that states require minors adjudicated of certain sexual offenses to be on the sex offender registry, but not all states have complied. Our article examines how far the public in one Midwestern state that has not complied with the AWA is willing to go to manage juvenile sex offenders. We use a statewide survey of adults to examine attitudes toward applying adult sex offender penalties to minors adjudicated of a sex crime (residency restrictions, prohibitions from public schools, school zones, public parks, and social networking sites). Results indicate more than half (60%) of participants agreed that juveniles should be on the public sex offender registry. However, there was less consensus on how punitively juveniles should be treated compared with adult sex offenders. Results indicated which demographics in this state were more likely to hold punitive views toward juvenile sex offenders.
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