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Registration, Notification, and Residency Restrictions of Those Committing Sex Offenses

Date Published
August 18, 2014

Communities have widely adopted laws regarding registration, notification and residency restriction of those convicted of sex offenses to reduce the risk of sex crimes. All states, territories and the District of Columbia have passed registration and notification laws.[1] At least 30 states and hundreds of smaller jurisdictions have passed residency restrictions.[2]

Registration and notification laws are meant to help law enforcement monitor those convicted of offenses and solve crimes, help residents protect themselves and their children, and deter crime. Specific requirements vary between jurisdictions. But all jurisdictions mandate that convicted those convicted of sex offenses register their addresses with law enforcement and allow the general public to gather some information about such individuals nearby. Residency restriction laws forbid those convicted of sex offenses from living near locations such as schools and daycare centers. These restrictions are based on the assumption that individuals choose their victims from among the people close by.

NIJ supports research projects in several states to learn about the implementation and effects of registration, notification and residency restriction laws. While these laws are popular, there has been very little evidence of their effectiveness in reducing crime. Studies assess whether these laws discourage reoffenses and first-time offenses and measure unintended consequences, such as effects on judicial decision-making. This research aims to provide valuable information that can inform future public policies for management of individuals who have committed offenses.

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Date Published: August 18, 2014