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Public Safety Potential of Megan's Law in Massachusetts: An Assessment From a Sample of Criminal Sexual Psychopaths

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 45 Issue: 1 Dated: January 1999 Pages: 140-158
A J Petrosino
Date Published
19 pages
Secondary data on 136 criminal sexual psychopaths were used for an exploratory assessment of the potential of the Massachusetts law on sex offender registration, which was similar to other Megan's Laws, to prevent subsequent sex offenses in Massachusetts.
The data came from the case files of sex offenders confined in a maximum-security institution. The offenders were clinically diagnosed to be habitual or compulsive. The offenders had accumulated 291 prior arrests, ranging from 0 to 19 per offender, with a median of 2.1 arrests. Twenty-seven percent of the sample had a prior conviction that met the requirements of the Massachusetts Registry Law before their most recent sex offense. Twelve of the 36 offenders who would have been eligible for the registry committed a stranger-predatory sex offense; the remaining 24 offended against family, friends, and coworkers. Findings indicated that, assuming a registry and notification system of complete integrity, proactive police warnings could have potentially reached subsequent victims in 6 of the 12 stranger-predatory cases. Tables, notes, and 19 references (Author abstract modified)