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The transience of registered sex offenders (RSOs) is a major impediment to reentry success, particularly because it has been linked to increased absconding and recidivism, and thus decreased community safety. Unfortunately, there is limited existing research on what factors most influence this transience. The purpose of this study was to identify and explore the relative influence of factors predicting transience for RSOs. Using data gathered from the Florida sex offender registry and multiple supplemental state and federal data sources, the analysis revealed a number of county- and individual-level characteristics that are associated with the likelihood of RSO transience. At the county level, these include residence restriction coverage, housing affordability, and population density. At the individual level, these include age, minority status, victim type (minor vs. adult), risk level, supervision status, and prior failure to register convictions. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
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... Attempting to navigate back into society from lengthy incarceration is daunting for anyone; however, when coupled with a sex offender label, the resources available are even fewer than those for individuals who have nonsexual offenses. 32,57 The stigma that is associated with sexual offenders may lead to their families becoming pariahs in their communities 58,59 and thus may influence family members and friends to cut ties with the offenders. ...
... Sex offenders trigger great concern in the general public. 58,59 The SVP law was designed to identify sexual offenders with a well-founded risk to offend sexually in a predatory and violent manner. Indeed, those found to meet SVP criteria represent a small percentage of sex offenders referred for evaluation (eight percent of all individuals referred to the DSH for evaluation since the inception of the law). ...
Article
Sexually violent predator (SVP) statutes are unique in that these laws allow for the indefinite civil psychiatric commitment of sex offenders after their criminal sentences have been served. In addition to the high cost of psychiatric hospitalization, recently observed low base rates of sexual recidivism of sex offenders released from custody suggest that, in select SVP cases, a collaborative justice model of outpatient placement may be feasible in lieu of lengthy and costly placement in state hospitals. Given its position as one of the states with a large number of SVP commitments, California offers an opportunity to implement a collaborative justice model for adult sex offenders found to meet SVP criteria. In this article, a template for such a model is suggested. Admittedly, this model faces multiple obstacles, both within the judicial system and in the public arena. Nonetheless, public concerns may be mitigated through high-control parole plus additional treatment and controls, interim halfway house placement, and community prosocial support systems.
... By the VA's own CHALENG data, large numbers of veterans with sex offenses have been unable to secure the housing they need to stabilize in the community, thus placing themselves and the communities they live in at significant public safety risk. Transience increases the risk for absconding from parole/probation supervision, which in turn decreases community safety (Socia et al., 2015). Veterans with sex offender registry requirements face employment stigma. ...
Article
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Though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides housing, residential treatment, and mental health care to justice involved veterans, those with sexual offenses face daunting obstacles to securing such services, including exclusion from housing programs, and lack of mental health services to treat sexual deviancy disorders. The VA's strategy to date may reflect a large system's caution in systematically addressing a problem that involves a population with an even higher degree of stigma than homelessness. Failure to develop strategies to address this problem reflects the need for a VA system-wide, consistent, and effective approach across relevant domains that incorporate the current state of knowledge and practice. Since 2006, the VA's program serving justice system veterans has been highly effective in serving the reentry veteran population. The challenge of serving veterans with sex offenses can and must be met with a similar level of effectiveness. In this commentary, we propose that the VA, beginning with the Secretary, adopt a "reset" policy and programmatic action agenda to enhance access to housing and treatment for sexual deviancy disorders. We offer specific pathways for implementation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Given the known association between unstable housing and criminal behavior (Lutze et al., 2014;Metraux & Culhane, 2004;Pleggenkuhle et al., 2016;Steiner et al., 2015;Willis & Grace, 2008), implementation of policies that increase the likelihood of homelessness for an already vulnerable population seems counterproductive to any stated policy aims. While often framed in terms of public safety (e.g., Levenson & D'amora, 2007), such policies are repeatedly found to have extensive negative collateral consequences (Levenson, 2008;Levenson & Cotter, 2005;Levenson & Hern, 2007;Levenson et al., 2015;Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2009;Socia, 2011Socia, , 2012Socia & Stamatel, 2012;Socia et al., 2015;Zandbergen & Hart, 2006), including indirect and direct associations with criminal behavior (Lutze et al., 2014;Metraux & Culhane, 2004;Pleggenkuhle et al., 2016;Steiner et al., 2015;Willis & Grace, 2008), the opposite of their stated intentions. ...
Article
Sex offender residence restrictions (SORRs) have been widely implemented across the United States since the 1990s. A common concern regarding the implementation of SORRs is the decrease in viable housing options for registered sex offenders, which could potentially lead to homelessness. The vast application of SORRs across the United States, in addition to the known association between homelessness and crime, necessitates a deeper understanding of how SORRs impact rates of homelessness among this population. Utilizing data from South Carolina’s Sex Offender Registry, this study describes patterns of homelessness among this population. Specifically, using an interrupted time series analysis, we examine whether the state’s implementation of its SORR has an effect on the proportion of registered sex offenders reported as homeless. Our findings reveal a strong association between the implementation of residence restriction policies and rates of homelessness for registered sex offenders in South Carolina. Policy implications are discussed.
... Parks and playgrounds have been viewed to serve the public good, ranging from leisurely activities like relaxing outdoors to improving physical health (Loukaitou-Sideris & Sideris, 2010), yet current laws enacted throughout the United States prohibit certain persons convicted of sex crimes from accessing these social spaces (e.g., residence restrictions, child safety zones, and social exclusion zones; e.g., Colombino et al., 2011;Levenson & Cotter, 2005;Levenson & Zgoba, 2014;Socia, Levenson, Ackerman, & Harris, 2014). The premise of the laws is often linked to youth safety, public safety, and reduced victimization (i.e., from strangers), but few studies have delved into the characteristics of sexual assaults that take place at these youth-centric locations. ...
Article
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In the United States, certain laws restrict those convicted of sexually offending from accessing social spaces where youth congregate such as parks and playgrounds. However, empirical work to date has rarely described sexual assaults in these locations or tested the assumptions of these laws explicitly. To address these gaps in the literature, we drew on the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to analyze offender, victim, and crime characteristics of sexual assaults that occurred at parks and playgrounds over a 5-year period (2010-2015). Estimated via multivariate logistic regression, results showed support for these law's assumptions when analyzing this particular location. However, stranger perpetrators were significantly more likely to sexually assault adult victims versus youth victims. Several other offense features distinguished youth versus adult victim sexual assault incidents at parks and playgrounds, such as the offender age, the use of force, and the injuries sustained by the victim. Collectively, these findings both support and challenge these types of social space restriction laws.
Article
Purpose. This study investigates criminal nomadism—an individual's propensity to engage in continuous or intermittent interurban travel as a way to cope with the consequences of their criminal lifestyle and/or as a strategy to adapt to the reality of being a “career criminal.” Methods. The criminal-career itinerary across Canada of 448 men convicted of sex offenses was reconstructed through individual interviews and analysis of detailed criminal records. Five distinct components of criminal nomadism (i.e., trips, nodes, paths, range, and mesolevel activity space), inspired by crime pattern theory, are suggested and analyzed. Results. Results show that criminal nomadism is the reality of young and educated Whites who have a prolific criminal career interspersed with long incarceration sentences. Nomadic offenders did not wander freely and randomly, but rather seemed to be looking for opportunities and privacy. Sex-offending variables did not make a significant contribution to predictions, suggesting that criminal nomadism is more a general offending phenomenon than something specific to sex offending. Conclusions. This study provides supporting evidence that an extensive criminal career is generally associated with a geographically scattered and nomadic lifestyle. Implications for public policies and future studies are discussed.
Article
There is considerable research on the efficacy of sex offense registries, but less is known about individual compliance with registration. Recent research and subsequent policy have highlighted the importance of understanding technical violations as a hidden driver of mass incarceration, and there is emerging evidence that suggests that agency violation practices vary widely. We analyzed administrative data from a large sample of individuals on the sex offense registry in Missouri to identify the factors associated with risk for noncompliance, including a technical violation and reincarceration. Both stable and dynamic factors contribute to our understanding of compliance and incarceration. Findings also suggest that living in a county with few registrants contributes to lowered odds of noncompliance. Alternatively, high caseloads contribute to greater odds of incarceration only. More generally, we find a sizeable portion of jurisdictional variation remains for both noncompliance and incarceration, a finding that suggests different enforcement practices across place.
Chapter
Sexual offenders represent a heterogeneous group of individuals that are heavily regulated by complex federal and state laws. The main psycholegal questions pertaining to sexual offenders are recidivism and dangerousness, assessing for mitigating factors at sentencing, and evaluations to determine appropriate management and treatment services in the community. This chapter will provide an overview of relevant laws, tools to assess risk for recidivism, and treatment. These items will be placed in the context of trauma within this population, with the emphasis being on adult male offenders. This chapter will focus on antecendent childhood trauma, and the impact of trauma incurred from incarceration, commitment, and legislation regulating sex offender management in the community.
Technical Report
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This report, “Taking Stock: Housing, Homelessness, and Prisoner Reentry,” examines how those who have spent time in prison or jail fare in securing safe and affordable housing following their release and discusses housing programming and practice designed to assist them. Every prisoner facing discharge from a correctional institution must answer this question: “Where will I sleep tonight?” For many returning prisoners, the family home provides an answer to that question. But reunions with families are not always possible—or are only temporary—sometimes due to the dictates of criminal justice or housing policies, or sometimes due to family dynamics. For those who cannot return to the homes of families or friends, the question of housing becomes considerably more complex. For some, the final answer to the question “Where will I sleep tonight?” is a homeless shelter or the street. Many are finding that the difficulties in securing affordable and appropriate housing complicate the reentry process, further reducing already limited chances for successful community reintegration. The report is the culmination and synthesis of three tasks designed to inform the state of knowledge around housing, homelessness, and prisoner reentry: (1) a descriptive report on the barriers and challenges facing returning prisoners, as well as potential opportunities for serving or supporting the housing-related needs of returning prisoners, (2) a scan of promising housing and other housing-related service programs for returning prisoners and ex-offenders, and (3) a roundtable discussion by experts in the field held in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 2003. The goal of the roundtable was to bring together prominent practitioners, researchers, and community leaders to identify the most pressing housing issues and the most promising strategies for resolving these issues. The report and scan of practice were developed to serve as background materials to help frame the discussion, already underway in many communities, about the extent of the housing challenges faced by returning prisoners. The roundtable participants were provided a copy of the draft report and scan of practice. After the roundtable, the report was revised to include a synthesis of the roundtable discussion. Our ultimate aim is to sharpen the nation’s thinking on the issue of housing and prisoner reintegration, and to foster policy innovations that will improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. In this executive summary, we provide brief background information on the issues surrounding housing and prisoner reentry to lay the foundation for a presentation of the highlights from the day-long roundtable discussion.
Article
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This is the final technical report for a pilot study of Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry. The study examined the process of prisoner reentry within the city of Baltimore. It involved self-administered surveys with 324 male and female prisoners. The study's purpose was both to examine the process of prisoner reintegration in Baltimore; as well as to test our survey instruments and research design in preparation for implementation of the study in three full-study sites. The report's purpose is to inform policymakers and service providers about how released prisoners navigate these challenges of reentry.
Article
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To date, scholars have simply inferred the beliefs underlying sex offender laws from the passage and content of the legislation. Few researchers have directly spoken to legislators to determine their opinions of the sex offender problem. This study seeks to determine the perceptions of sex offenders and sex offending in the 1990s that drove the need for sex offender reform in Illinois and the degree to which these perceptions influenced the content of the laws. The findings suggest that policy makers had very distinct ideas about the nature of the sex offender problem in terms of who was responsible, who was in need of protection, and the degree to which legislative responses would address the issue. There was congruence between these personal perceptions and the content of sex offender laws. The results shed light on the degree to which public officials' personal perceptions influence the passage and content of legislation.
Article
Sex offenders are having restrictions within their location of residency. As such, being released from prison, James Hill had been asked to either find an appropriate housing or be transferred to another prison until he could find one. Thus, a state law prohibits him from living in his own house which was 1,000 feet from a school. However, Hill believes that this restriction is quite unfair and ineffective. The U.S. Department of Justice has few jurisdictions as for the convicted sex offenders are newly released from prison. The question is that if this restricting law really does work and make communities safer. Critics say that this law may create more problems as they would likely to commit new crimes. With this, the U.S. law has required sex offenders to register with their local authorities on a regular basis while 11 states require a lifetime registration. In 1996, the Megan's Law was created which was an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Act to provide a community notification so as to let the public know where sex offenders live.
Chapter
Across the two post-prison employment outcome variables, several patterns of relationships emerged. First, local labor-market conditions, as measured by county unemployment rates, seem to matter by affecting the chances that ex-prisoners find jobs. In the analysis of the initial spell of unemployment, the marginal effect of county unemployment rates on the probability of exiting the initial spell was two percentage points; in the analysis of quarterly employment, the marginal effect reached six percentage points. County unemployment rates equally affected the postprison employment probabilities for offenders with no pre-prison employment and those with some pre-prison employment. Thus, in these Ohio data at least, the speculation that tight labor markets can improve employment opportunities for ex-prisoners finds some support. These findings are tentative, however. Despite the support for the central thesis-that local unemployment rates matter-the unemployment rates observed during much of this period were relatively low. This suggests that the results that were obtained may have come primarily from increases in unemployment leading to job loss, rather than the other way around. If the Ohio prisoners released during 1999 and 2000 benefited from the relatively tight labor-market conditions at the time, which have not been observed since 2000, then this period may represent the maximum gains for ex-prisoner employment that can be obtained from decreases in unemployment. This limitation can be studied by collecting data on post-prison employment experiences for longer periods of time. Once the original investment is made in linking corrections data to UI wage data, the marginal costs of obtaining additional years of data are small. Along these same lines, the use of UI wage data by corrections departments to track employment outcomes seems to be a plausible and relatively inexpensive method for obtaining outcome data on exprisoners. States that collect prisoners' social security numbers, such as Ohio, are in the position to develop relationships with their UI claims departments, and they can enter into computer record matching agreements that permit them to link offender records to the UI wage records. Such arrangements to obtain data can lead to the development of inexpensive, ongoing systems to monitor post-prison outcomes. They also can contribute to the development of research databases. To the extent that several states develop these systems, the various research databases can allow for comparative analyses of post-prison employment outcomes. The speculations about post-prison outcomes also highlight one limitation of this analysis: its reliance only on unemployment rates to mea sure local labor-market conditions. Future research should expand upon the measure of local labor-market conditions to include factors such as the size of the labor force, the sectoral composition, new job growth, wages, and other measures of the supply of and demand for labor. These analyses might give more clues as to whether and how exprisoners can be absorbed when labor markets are not as tight as they were throughout much of this period. Analyses of sectoral demand for labor, for example, can be accomplished by using the industry information in the UI wage records. A second finding is that the accumulation of pre-prison human capital- as indicated by pre-prison employment-seems to facilitate postprison employment. Ex-prisoners with as little as one-quarter of employment in the year prior to admission into prison exited their initial post-prison unemployment more quickly than offenders with no preprison employment during the year prior to admission, and their postprison employment probabilities were as much as 10 percent higher than those with no pre-prison employment. Third, the poor performance of prison programs in this analysis is perplexing and discouraging and merits additional work to better measure program outcomes. The negative outcomes for the vocation certificate recipients can be understood in terms of their role in the prison, the possibility of a spatial mismatch between the trades in which they are trained and local demands for these skills, and the discounting of prison labor by employers. To better understand the program participation outcomes, both better measures of program participation and different methods to isolate causal mechanisms are required. If the results found here were to hold after additional analyses, they would suggest that prison programming does little to enhance the capacity of offenders to compete in local labor markets unless these offenders already possess labor-market skills and experiences. For example, if prison vocation programs focus only on offenders who have prior work experiences, they not only "cream off" the offenders who are most likely to succeed but also fail to serve the majority of offenders who have little to no pre-prison labor-market experience. The combination of the findings about pre-prison employment and education experiences and the absence of findings of beneficial effects of prison program participation also suggest more generally that the current focus on prisoner reentry efforts may be somewhat misplaced, if it focuses too intently on what happens in prison to prepare offenders for release. Without discounting the importance of the need to prepare offenders for reentry, these analyses show that pre-prison work experience and education are much more important in determining postprison outcomes than what goes on in prison to prepare offenders for release. This perspective also suggests that broader labor-market poli cies can have beneficial effects, both for the general labor force and for ex-prisoners. Finally, post-prison supervision also turns out to be positively related to post-prison employment. Whether this arises from offenders' attempting to comply with conditions of supervision or from parole officers' efforts to locate jobs and help in the reintegration effort is not known. Even though states have turned away from using parolerelease decisions, there is still relatively widespread use of different forms of post-prison supervision. The Ohio (and Washington State) cases suggest that continuing to use some form of post-prison supervision can be beneficial in improving post-prison employment. The downside to post-prison supervision is exemplified by California, where more than two-thirds of prison admissions are of persons who have returned to prison due to technical violations of conditions of supervision. While the California case does refute the view that supervision can be beneficial, it suggests that the type and character of supervision may be important. In future research, administrative data such as that used in this paper needs to be supplemented with additional data on post-prison supervision experiences in order to better understand how supervision contributes to post-prison employment and recidivism outcomes.
Article
In sum, the empirical research on sex offender residence restrictions is extremely limited. Only one study (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2007) has specifically examined the empirical relationship between residence restrictions and recidivism, and that study was prospective because no such law was in place. No true empirical evaluations of existing residence laws have been completed to date. There is a growing body of evidence, however, that residence restrictions create unintended consequences for sex offenders and communities. These adverse effects include: homelessness; transience; inaccessibility to social support, employment, and rehabilitative services; registry invalidity; and clustering of sex offenders in poor, rural, or socially disorganized neighborhoods, Residence laws are often predicated on erroneous assumptions of high recidivism rates and "stranger danger," and they have infrequently incorporated empirically derived risk assessment. As a result, the community reintegration of lower-risk, non-violent, and statutory offenders may be unnecessarily impeded. So, in the absence of evidence that residence restrictions are effective In achieving goals of improved community safety, their unintended effects may outweigh their benefits. Therefore, it is crucial to determine whether these laws are indeed efficacious methods for controlling sex offense recidivism and preventing sexual violence,.
Article
Prison growth over the last quarter of the twentieth century is notable not only for its magnitude but also for the fact that it has disproportionately affected already disadvantaged segments of the population. The prison buildup generates three important observations about inequalities related to incarceration. African Americans are seven times more likely than whites to serve time in prison; educational disproportionality in exposure to the criminal-justice system has increased; and nonviolent offenders represent a growing proportion of prison inmates (Pettit and Western 2004; Mauer 1999). Criminal offenders and prison inmates face poor labor-market opportunities. Employers express a reluctance to hire ex-inmates (Pager 2003; Holzer 1996), and ex-inmates face earnings penalties of between 10 and 30 percent (Western, Kling, and Weiman 2001). Research that finds persistent incarceration penalties, even when controlling for indicators of productivity and criminal embeddedness, suggests the causal relevance of the stigma of incarceration. Explanations for incarceration effects that emphasize the stigma of contact with the criminal-justice system claim that individuals are typed or labeled as "essentially deviant" by formal agents of the criminal-justice system. Exposure to the criminal-justice system precedes the existence of any secondary or more positive characteristics of an individual, and the general consequence of being labeled essentially deviant means that one is viewed as less trustworthy and rule-abiding (Becker 1963). Although there is clear evidence of disproportionality in exposure to the criminal-justice system, we know relatively little about how the effects of incarceration vary by race, class, or criminal involvement. The ubiquity of incarceration among low-skilled minority men leads us to reconsider the relevance of social stigma for the economic fortunes of inmates. In an environment of "mass incarceration" (Garland 2001), stigma effects may be less severe, as incarceration may not provide a clear signal of trustworthiness or future productivity to employers. Harry J. Holzer, Steven Raphael, and Michael Stoll (2003) argue that the effects of incarceration may be minimized because employers statistically discriminate against groups with high rates of incarceration (for example, young black low-skilled men). Similarly situated young men already face poor job prospects due to structural divisions within labor markets that relegate low-skilled workers to jobs with low wages and little chance for earnings growth (Bernhardt et al. 2001). This chapter examines how the effects of incarceration on post-release employment and wages depend on offender characteristics. In order to investigate this question we assembled an administrative data set containing information on individuals who were in a Washington State prison between 1990 and 2000, linked to demographic, education, and earnings records. We use these data to examine post-release employment and wages in jobs covered by unemployment insurance (UI). We investigate how the effects of spending time in prison vary by race, education, and a general measure of criminal severity. We find that incarceration has mixed effects on post-release employment. Offenders experience temporary gains in UI-covered employment in the first year after release from prison, although the effect declines with time out of prison. Incarceration is consistently associated with declines in post-release wages. Subgroup differences in incarceration effects emphasize the significance of social stigma explanations, particularly for high-status offenders. The negative effects of incarceration on wages are greatest for those who are least likely to spend time in prison and for whom spending time in prison is strongly counternormative. Racial differences in post-release employment and wages highlight race as a "master status" and suggest that incarceration effects must be considered in relation to growing inequality in labor-market outcomes generated by structural divisions in labor markets. Prison incarceration has become a common occurrence among young low-skilled men in recent cohorts, and the penal system has taken on growing significance in accounts of inequality. Men at high risk of incarceration (for example, low-skilled, black) are not more heavily penalized for spending time in prison than other offenders. However, all ex-inmates experience post-release declines in wages, and declines are enduring for blacks. Further, even small wage penalties, when considered in relation to high rates of incarceration among disadvantaged men, deepen inequality and reinforce the growing cleavage between the economic opportunities of men involved in the criminal-justice system and those outside of it.
Book
"The Truly Disadvantagedshould spur critical thinking in many quarters about the causes and possible remedies for inner city poverty. As policy makers grapple with the problems of an enlarged underclass they—as well as community leaders and all concerned Americans of all races—would be advised to examine Mr. Wilson's incisive analysis."—Robert Greenstein,New York Times Book Review "'Must reading' for civil-rights leaders, leaders of advocacy organizations for the poor, and for elected officials in our major urban centers."—Bernard C. Watson,Journal of Negro Education "Required reading for anyone, presidential candidate or private citizen, who really wants to address the growing plight of the black urban underclass."—David J. Garrow,Washington Post Book World Selected by the editors of theNew York Times Book Reviewas one of the sixteen best books of 1987. Winner of the 1988 C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.