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Do Sex Offender Registries Reduce Crime?

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By Tyrrell Sampson
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Do sex offender registries reduce crime

The use of sex offender registries may have helped the U.S. reduce sex crimes against children. But there are many sex crimes that go unreported. So, does it actually reduce crime? The answer to that question depends on the specifics of each case. For example, a registry may only capture crimes that occurred in the past three years. But a registry for minor offenses may reduce sex crimes significantly, even if these offences are not as widespread.

But a registry will not prevent a perpetrator from committing further violence. This is because most perpetrators will not end up on a registry and will not re-offend. Moreover, the vast majority of sex offences will be committed by a small minority of perpetrators. Ultimately, these registry policies will not prevent violent behavior against minors, and will not have a significant impact on crime rates.

There are also a number of drawbacks to sex offender registries. Many victims are reluctant to report sex offenses because they think that the public will find out who committed it. The fact is, the perpetrator may be a close family member, friend, or community member. The result of a sex offender registry may actually impede the offender’s reintegration and future rehabilitation, limiting his or her opportunities for education, employment, or housing. Moreover, it may also result in higher recidivism rates.

But do sex offender registries actually reduce crime? This debate is largely unresolved. Many argue that they make things worse rather than better. And in Turner’s case, the penalty is too light. In the US, incarceration is the usual punishment for serious crimes, so not putting him in prison does not further deter crime. That is an unjust way to punish a person.

While public registries may deter some sex crimes, a public database does not prevent reoffending. Studies have shown that only a small percentage of convicted sex offenders are actually deterred by a registry. This is not to say that a registry will completely eliminate sex crimes, but it will greatly increase the chances of a crime victim reporting a crime.

Using regression discontinuity design, registry recidivism was found to decrease by approximately 5% in North Carolina, but did not reduce the overall rate. A regression discontinuity design found that a small difference in the initial registry date caused some offenders to be removed from the registry after 10 years while others remained on the registry. Therefore, the length of the registry does not directly decrease sex crime recidivism, but the effect of a registry on the likelihood of reoffending after parole or court proceedings was largely statistically insignificant.

A public notification does not significantly decrease crime, and has a negative impact on property values. It also adds unnecessary stigma to minor sex offences, like sexual groping a stranger. Even if an offender commits a sex offense, they don’t pose the same public threat as a murderer. The sex offender registry does some good, but it does more harm than good if it is already in place.

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