This section may stray from the topic of the article. Please help improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page. June In , California became the first state in the United States to have a sex offender registration program. Prior to , only a few states required convicted sex offenders to register their addresses with local law enforcement. The s saw the emergence of several cases of brutal violent sexual offenses against children.
As a result, public policies began to focus on protecting public from stranger danger. Almost half of those imprisoned for child-victim cases, offended against their own child or other relative. Recidivism studies typically find that the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism.
Under polygraph, many apprehended sex offenders indicated that most of their offenses were not reported. Jacob Wetterling Act of [ edit ] Main article: His whereabouts remained unknown for nearly 27 years until remains were discovered just outside Paynesville, Minnesota in Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling , current chair of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children , led a community effort to implement a sex offender registration requirement in Minnesota and, subsequently, nationally.
States had a certain time period to enact the legislation, along with guidelines established by the Attorney General. Jesse Timmenquas, who had been convicted of two previous sex crimes against children, lured Megan in his house and raped and killed her. Megan's mother, Maureen Kanka, started to lobby to change the laws, arguing that registration established by the Wetterling Act, was insufficient for community protection.
Maureen Kanka's goal was to mandate community notification, which under the Wetterling Act had been at the discretion of law enforcement. She said that if she had known that a sex offender lived across the street, Megan would still be alive. In , New Jersey enacted Megan's Law. The amendment required all states to implement Registration and Community Notification Laws by the end of Prior to Megan's death, only 5 states had laws requiring sex offenders to register their personal information with law enforcement.
On August 5, Massachusetts was the last state to enact its version of Megan's Law. The most comprehensive legislation related to the supervision and management of sex offenders is the Adam Walsh Act AWA , named after Adam Walsh , who was kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall and killed in , when he was 6-years-old. The AWA was signed on the 25th anniversary of his abduction; efforts to establish a national registry was led by John Walsh , Adam's father. SORNA provides uniform minimum guidelines for registration of sex offenders, regardless of the state they live in.
SORNA requires states to widen the number of covered offenses and to include certain classes of juvenile offenders. Prior to SORNA, states were granted latitude in the methods to differentiate offender management levels. Scholars have warned that classification system required under Adam Walsh Act is less sophisticated than risk-based approach previously adopted in certain states. Identical offenses committed in different states may produce different outcomes in terms of public disclosure and registration period.
Sources of variation are diverse, but may be viewed over three dimensions — how classes of registrants are distinguished from one another, the criteria used in the classification process, and the processes applied in classification decisions. At one end are the states operating single-tier systems that treat registrants equally with respect to reporting, registration duration, notification, and related factors.
Alternatively, some states use multi-tier systems, usually with two or three categories that are supposed to reflect presumed public safety risk and, in turn, required levels of attention from law enforcement and the public.
States running offense-based systems use the conviction offense or the number of prior offenses as the criteria for tier assignment.
Other jurisdictions utilize various risk assessments that consider factors that scientific research has linked to sexual recidivism risk, such as age, number of prior sex offenses, victim gender, relationship to the victim, and indicators of psychopathy and deviant sexual arousal.
Finally, some states use a hybrid of offense-based and risk-assessment-based systems for classification. For example, Colorado law requires minimum terms of registration based on the conviction offense for which the registrant was convicted or adjudicated but also uses a risk assessment for identifying sexually violent predators — a limited population deemed to be dangerous and subject to more extensive requirements.
In general, offense-based classification systems are used for their simplicity and uniformity. They allow classification decisions to be made via administrative or judicial processes. Risk-assessment-based systems, which employ actuarial risk assessment instruments and in some cases clinical assessments, require more of personnel involvement in the process.
Some states, like Massachusetts and Colorado, utilize multidisciplinary review boards or judicial discretion to establish registrant tiers or sexual predator status. Public notification[ edit ] States also differ with respect to public disclosure of offender information.
In some jurisdictions all sex offenders are subject to public notification through newspapers, posters, email, or Internet-accessible database. However, in others, only information on high-risk offenders is publicly available, and the complete lists are withheld for law enforcement only. Red and orange highlights denoted the areas where certain registered sex offenders could not reside within the city   Laws restricting where registered sex offenders may live or work have become increasingly common since In addition, hundreds of counties and municipalities have passed local ordinances exceeding the state requirements,   and some local communities have created exclusion zones around churches , pet stores , movie theaters , libraries , playgrounds , tourist attractions or other "recreational facilities" such as stadiums , airports , auditoriums , swimming pools , skating rinks and gymnasiums, regardless of whether publicly or privately owned.
The report also found that laws preclude registrants from homeless shelters within restriction areas. Effectiveness of sex offender registration policies in the United States Evidence to support the effectiveness of public sex offender registries is limited and mixed.
In fact, a number of negative unintended consequences have been empirically identified that may aggravate rather than mitigate offender risk. Consequently, the study found that a majority of the public endorses broad community notification and related policies. They call the laws too harsh and unfair for adversely affecting the lives of registrants decades after completing their initial sentence , and for affecting their families as well.
Critics say that registries are overly broad as they reach to non-violent offenses, such as sexting or consensual teen sex, and fail to distinguish those who are not a danger to society from predatory offenders. Lanning argues that registration should be offender-based instead of offense-based: The offense an offender is technically found or pleads guilty to may not truly reflect his dangerousness and risk level".
However, they are reluctant to aim for reforms because of political opposition and being viewed as lessening the child safety laws.