Does Public Sex Offender List Create Crime? U-M Prof Thinks So

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Although evidence suggests that requiring convicted sex offenders to register with the police reduces the chances they’ll re-offend, a recent paper co-authored by a University of Michigan law professor shows that publicizing sex offenders’ identities may actually increase the chances they’ll commit another sex crime.

So, is it time to revisit Michigan’s sex offender registry?

The paper examined 10 years of data from 15 states and took a systematic look at the aftermath of two stages of the ever-changing get-tough legislative response to sex offenders: first, laws that require convicted offenders to register with their local police, and second, laws that also require notification — that is, publication of offenders’ identities, their crimes, etc. — either through searchable internet pages or other means, including personal visits or newspaper notices.

The outcomes of the two approaches are distinctly different, the professors found.

First, their evidence indicates that a registration requirement without public notification reduces reported sex crimes substantially, probably because police are better able to monitor and arrest repeat offenders.

In jurisdictions with an average number of offenders registered, that reduction can be as high as 13 percent, and grows larger as the registries grow. This last fact implies that registration laws lower crime more by discouraging registered offenders from committing new crimes than by discouraging potential first offenders from committing crimes in the first place.

Second, the data suggest that programs like Michigan’s, where the identities of registered offenders is made public, sex offenders are more likely to commit new crimes.

Requiring notification could deter first offenders, but that may be more than offset by released offenders’ tendency to commit new crimes when they are subjected to notification requirements. The data also indicate that jurisdictions with notification laws suffer slightly higher rates of overall reported sex crimes.

While registration appears to discourage repeat offenses, notification requirements actually seem to encourage them — possibly, according to the authors, “because the associated psychological, social, or financial costs (of notification requirements) make a crime-free life relatively less desirable.”

Comments

One Comment

  1. pachrismith says:

    Drs. Prescott and Rockoff are meticulous and uncompromising researchers. Dr Prescott wrote to me that he had not considered getting into the neuroscience of recidivism, and that is not a fault because that science is not usually associated with his field of expertise. I have not found any formal research measuring stress hormone levels of populations subject to these laws and those not, but I think it would be telling. The disruption of housing, employment and social environments induced by these laws in the lives of sex offenders has been recognized as producing elevated levels of stress. Stress has long been associated with poor decision making and impulsive behavior and recent discoveries have linked stress induced neurochemicals to inhibited functioning in the part of the brain where impulse control, planning, and inhibition of inappropriate behaviors is processed. I don’t believe that the sex offenders logically deduce that living a crime-free life is less desireable, it is rather the neurochemical interference with logic that is responsible.

  2. pachrismith says:

    By the way, the question should not have been “should Michigan abolish the sex offender registry?” The report clearly found a small reduction in recidivism rate for registries restricted to law enforcement. It was the registries that allowed public access or community notification that produced increases in recidivism. So the question should have been “should public access to sex offender registries be restricted?” If the offender is so likely to commit another sex crime that the community needs to be warned, he shouldn’t be released. PERIOD
    And the combined average recidivism rate for the 24 states theat publish such information for sex offenders, a 15 state USDOJ study, and a Public Safety Canada (Canadas USDOJ) is 4.22%.

  3. jingxiao says:

    Unknown message

  4. William says:

    Execute who, exactly??? Are you actually advocating death for the sex offender who’s only offense was urinating in public? Seriously?

    In my estimation, you are soliciting murder here…which is a crime.

  5. ShellyStow says:

    This article confirms what research studies, both governmental and private, have been showing for years. Unfortunately, driven by politicians who have discovered sex offender issues to be a springboard to election and by uninformed individuals like Satchmo, they have been largely ignored. Now, thanks to greater awareness fostered by honest and ethical media sources and journalists who have done their homework, the truth is becoming harder to ignore without making those who continue to ignore it look foolish.

  6. Lynn Gilmore says:

    Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why those on the registry find a “crime-free life relatively less desirable” is because being on the registry often forces joblessness and homelessness, leaving no other option for offenders than to turn to crime just to survive. With a recidivism rate of less than 5% (according to the Dept. of Justice), it is astounding more registered offenders aren’t out there committing new crimes. Oh, and Satchmo, you seriously need to educate yourself on the issue. Since 95% of all new sex crimes are committed by people who are NOT on the registry, executing the ones on the registry would only eliminate 5% of the new sex crimes.

  7. Sex Offender Issues says:

    What a load of BS. Care to provide a link to the so-called “study?” I don’t just take peoples word for it, I like to see facts, or what they call facts.

    We have many studies on our blog, which show this is wrong.

    http://tinyurl.com/SOIRecidivism

    1. pachrismith says:

      I know your work and subscribe to your blog. I think you misunderstand – this study underscores the need to reform current laws because for any child they may save, this says the law causes more victims, a net negative benefit. Here’s a link, read it. You’ll appreciate it, I promise.
      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1100663

    2. Jason T says:

      As someone directly involved with the sex-offender registry, I think politicians have destroyed the point of the registry.
      Please, anybody explain to me how a senior in high school who has consensual sex with a freshman should have to serve months in jail, years on probation, register what was for 25 years, but as of July 2011 the state of Michigan changed to lifetime registration(which breaks all kinds of post-facto laws), have no options to fight to have record expunged 10+ years later, since Michigan made CSC 3 & Att. CSC 3 a non expendable crime, which by the way is a lesser degree charge (csc 1 is the worst, csc 4 is juveniles), no chance at a career, only minimum wage jobs, often part time jobs….. and lets not even get into the affects it has down the road once the person has a family of his own…
      how is this fair? it isn’t, and the sooner people realize the registry is nothing but a false sense of security, and only acts as a modern day Scarlett letter the better off we’ll all be. It’s all a money grab & witch hunt

  8. Edie Billings says:

    As someone directly involved with the sex-offender registry, I can attest to the fact that this is an ill-conceived system that has gone awry. There is no distinction as to the severity of the crime committeed punishing some who have committed non-contact,non violent crimes and who pose no threat to the public,at the same level as rapists,murderers and child molesters.

    This does not even take into consideration the collateral damageit does to the offenders family and children.

    If offenders are that dangerous, they should be in prison. Otherwise the rest should be able to move on with their lives once they’ve served their sentence.

  9. Jason T says:

    As someone directly involved with the sex-offender registry, I think politicians have destroyed the point of the registry.
    Please, anybody explain to me how a senior in high school who has consensual sex with a freshman should have to serve months in jail, years on probation, register what was for 25 years, but as of July 2011 the state of Michigan changed to lifetime registration(which breaks all kinds of post-facto laws), have no options to fight to have record expunged 10+ years later, since Michigan made CSC 3 & Att. CSC 3 a non expendable crime, which by the way is a lesser degree charge (csc 1 is the worst, csc 4 is juveniles), no chance at a career, only minimum wage jobs, often part time jobs….. and lets not even get into the affects it has down the road once the person has a family of his own…
    how is this fair? it isn’t, and the sooner people realize the registry is nothing but a false sense of security, and only acts as a modern day Scarlett letter the better off we’ll all be. It’s all a money grab & witch hunt

  10. Kat says:

    I think another point has been missed by the study. While registering with police may reduce crime, the same could be said for any crime so either every single person who has ever been convicted of anything should register or this whole registry should be abolished as an unfair and unconstitutional attack on one segment of society just as the Jim Crow laws were which by the way also used the same arguments about being civil not penal and how dangerous black men were supposedly “known” to be (what a crock!).

  11. How Often Should You Have Sex To Conceive says:

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other writers and practice something from their websites.

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