Sex Offender Registration and Notification

Wayne A. Logan, Florida State University College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 833

(March 2017)
Sex Offender Registration and Notification article cover image

Since the 1990s, U.S. jurisdictions have had laws in place requiring that convicted sex offenders, after their release from confinement, provide identifying information to authorities, which is then made available to community residents in the dual hope that they will undertake safety measures and that registrants will be deterred from reoffending.

According to the articles author, the laws remain popular with the public and political actors alike, but have long been criticized for being predicated on empirical misunderstandings, most notably that sex offenders as a group recidivate at higher rates than other offenders and that most sexual offending involves strangers.

Today, moreover, a considerable body of social-science research calls into question whether registration and notification achieve their avowed public-safety goals. This chapter summarizes the research undertaken to date regarding registration and notification and, presuming the laws’ continued existence, offers several concrete suggestions for ways in which they might be improved.