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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence against Women

General Material

Through this technical report, the researchers provide information on their findings evaluating the effectiveness of sex offender registry and notification policies for reducing sexual violence against women. The report suggested that these policies deterred some first time sex offenses, but had no impact on recidivism. The research was conducted in and reflects outcomes in South Carolina.

Key Findings:

  1. A significant deterrent effect was noted after 1995, the year that South Carolina first implemented sex offender registration and notification (SORN). An approximately 11% reduction in first-time sex crime arrests was found in the post-SORN period (1995-2005) relative to the pre-SORN period (1990-1994).
  2. However, there was no significant decline in the six year period after 1999, which was the year that South Carolina implemented its online sex offender registry, indicating that online notification did not influence general deterrence of adult sex crimes.
  3. Across a mean follow-up of 8.4 years, 490 (8%) of registered sex offenders had new sex crime charges and 299 (4%) offenders had new sex crime convictions. Registered sex offenders were not less likely to recidivate than non-registered sex offenders.
  4. Defendants were more likely to have charges reduced from sex to nonsex crimes over time, with a 9% predicted probability of reduced charges from 1990-1994 (pre-SORN), a 15% predicted probability of reduced charges from 1995-1999 (corresponding with initial implementation of SORN) and a 19% predicted probability after 1999 (corresponding with implementation of Internet notification).
  5. Results also indicated that the probability of obtaining a charge reduced from truth-in-sentencing (TIS) to non-TIS increased over time for sex crime defendants.
  6. The probability of a guilty disposition changed at each year group, with a predicted probability of 55% from 1990-1994, increasing to 65% from 1995-1999, and then declining to 60% after 1999. This final decline was more pronounced when pleaded cases were removed from analyses.
  7. With respect to failure to register (FTR) as a sex offender, no significant differences were found between the sexual recidivism rates of registered offenders with FTR charges and those without FTR charges (11% vs. 9%, respectively). There was no significant difference in the proportion of sexual recidivists and nonrecidivists with registration violations (12% and 10%, respectively). Failure to register did not predict sexual recidivism, and survival analyses revealed no significant difference in time to recidivism when comparing those who failed to register (M = 2.9 years) with compliant registrants (M = 2.8 years).