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Sex Offender Registries: Fear Without Function?

NCJ Number
Journal of Law and Economics Volume: 54 Issue: 1 Dated: 2011 Pages: 207-239
Date Published
33 pages

This study used three data sets and designs to determine whether sex offender registries were effective in reducing registrant recidivism.


First, it used state-level panel data to determine whether sex offender registries and public access to them decreased the rate of rape and other sexual abuse. Second, the study used a data set that contains information on the subsequent arrests of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 in 15 states to determine whether registries reduced the recidivism rate of offenders required to register compared with the recidivism of those who were not required to register. Finally, the study combined data on locations of crimes in Washington, D.C., with data on locations of registered sex offenders to determine whether knowing the locations of sex offenders in a region helped predict the locations of sexual abuse. The results from all three data sets did not support the hypothesis that sex offender registries are effective tools for increasing public safety. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2011