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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence Against Women, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
77 pages
This study determined whether comprehensive sex offender registration and community notification policies in South Carolina have reduced sexual reoffending or deterred sex offenses, and it examined whether unintended effects of such registration/notification policies have occurred.
The study found an 11-percent reduction in first-time sex-crime arrests after 1995, the year that South Carolina established sex offender registration and notification (SORN). This reduction occurred in the period 1995-2005 compared to the pre-SORN period (1990-1994); however, there was no significant decline in the 6 years after 1999, which was the year that South Carolina implemented its online sex offender registry, suggesting that online notification did not impact general deterrence for adult sex crimes. Across a mean follow-up of 8.4 years, 8 percent of registered sex offenders had new sex offense charges, and 4 percent had new sex-crime convictions. Registered sex offenders were not less likely to reoffend than nonregistered sex offenders. The study concludes that SORN, as implemented in South Carolina, apparently has had a positive impact on general deterrence in averting approximately three new first-time sex-crime cases per month; however, the State's SORN policy has had no effect on deterring the risk of sexual recidivism. The SORN policy has had unintended effects on judicial decisionmaking regarding adult sex-crime cases. An increased number of defendants have been permitted to plead to nonsex charges following the onset of the State's SORN policy and following its modification to require online notification. The net effect of this change could be to reduce community safety by increasing the likelihood that defendants who committed sex crimes will be allowed to plead to nonsex crimes or be acquitted. Also, it is not apparent that sex offenders who fail to register are more sexually dangerous than compliant registrants. 7 tables and 96 references

Date Published: September 1, 2010