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Sex Offender Registration: Policy Overview and Comprehensive Practices

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1999
9 pages

This paper compares State sex offender registration statutes and identifies promising and comprehensive practices in use throughout the country.


Sex offender registration laws require such offenders to supply their addresses and other identifying information to a State agency or law enforcement. Sex offender registration statutes are promoted as a means of deterring offenders from committing future crimes, providing law enforcement with an additional investigative tool, and increasing public protection. In 1994, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. This act requires States to create registries of offenders convicted of sexually violent offenses or crimes against children and to establish heightened registration requirements for highly dangerous sex offenders. It further requires offenders to verify their addresses annually for a period of 10 years and requires sexually violent predators to verify addresses on a quarterly basis for life. States that do not establish registration programs, in compliance with these provisions, are subject to a 10-percent reduction of Byrne formula grant funding. States have developed a number of promising approaches to sex offender registration. These include the development of written policy and procedures, detailing the registration process; the collection of thorough information on registered sex offenders; ready access to this information by all law enforcement officers; and the development of systems to effectively and efficiently transfer registration information within and across State lines, so that offenders cannot escape registration obligations. The most comprehensive approaches to sex offender registration involve the collaboration and coordination of efforts among all of the agencies involved in the process for the purpose of preventing further sexual victimization. A list of 4 resources

Date Published: October 1, 1999