- May 23, 2020
Sex Offender Policies
Levenson’sarticle discusses the steps lawmakers are taking to protect thepublic from repeat sex offenders. The author explains that the lawstipulates the use of the registration policy that requires lawenforcement agencies to collect data on sex offenders and post it onthe internet. Consequently, the public can access it to know the sexpredators living in their neighborhoods. The article also discussesthe empirical efficacy of the sex offenders and registration policy.
First,Levenson explains how concerned citizens utilize the information thatis offered in the sex offender register for protective purposes. Inmost cases, the data provided enables parents and other concernedmembers of the community to take the necessary actions to ascertainthat the children individuals maintain a safe distance frompotentially dangerous individuals. However, sometimes the communityoverlooks the importance of the information. Levenson notes thataccording to an article by Rachel Brandy, parents took minimalprotective behaviors even after getting the sex offendernotification. She states that the finding is in contradiction withthe assumptions about notification laws (Brandy, 2011). The authorindicates that “the vast media attention and urgent legislativeresponses to the perceived threat of sex offenders, parents seem toview the risk of sexual abuse to their children as relativelyminimal” (Levenson, 2011). Accordingly, she argues that thenotification regarding the information on the location of sexoffenders makes parents feel safe. However, the likelihood ofaltering their behavior is limited, which makes the benefitsnegligible.
Subsequently,the author addresses the controversy surrounding the notificationpolicies. She states that most studies have not indicated a change inthe rate of sex crimes after implementation of sexual offenderpolicies. Moreover, Levenson asserts that sexual offenses arecommitted mostly by first-time offenders despite the focus ofnotifications on the repeat sex offenders. A report by the Bureau ofJustice shows that few victims are up to that time unknown to theircommunity. She alleges that cases of recidivism are lower thancommonly believed. Additionally, there is the danger of being unableto distinguish between lower and higher risk criminals if theregistration is expanded to include more individuals. The author alsostates that the sexual offender policy is not the most efficient wayof dealing with the commonest scenarios of sexual assault. Levensonstates that it is important to evaluate both the symbolic andinstrumental objectives of sex offender and registration policy. Sheargues that despite the fact that empirical effects of the sexualoffender policy are hard to determine, samples point to importantsymbolic effects. Levenson quotes an article indicating that “sexoffender policies send a clear message to victims and concernedcitizens that sexual victimization is important to lawmakers and thatpoliticians are willing to address public concerns” (Sample, 2011).
Lastly,Levenson delves into the unintended consequences of the sex offendersand registration policy on the criminal’s rights. She mentions thatthe policy also affects offender’s reintegration as well ascontributing to recidivism risk factors. Besides, social policies maylead to unexpected negative outcomes despite their good intentions.Consequently, Levenson asserts that common values play a huge part insocial movements and can, make people ignore the negativeconsequences of change. Furthermore, citizens and lawmakers are morethan likely to disregard collateral consequences to discourage sexualviolence. As such, people who consider the ramifications of thepolicies on the offender’s rights are dismissed as being moreconcerned about the predators than the safety of the children.Nonetheless, the society is not taking the appropriate actions toprotect the children even after they have been offered the necessaryinformation to identify these criminals.
Bandy,Rachel. 2011. Measuring the impact of sex offender notification oncommunity adoption of protective behaviors. Criminology& Public Policy,10(2): 237– 263.
Levenson,Jill (2011). Sex offender policies in an era of zero tolerance – whatdoes effectiveness really mean? Criminology& Public Policy,10(2): 229-233.
Sample,Lisa L. 2011. The need to debate the fate of sex offender communitynotification laws. Criminology& Public Policy,10(2): 265–274.