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NCJ Number: 167914 Find in a Library
Title: Sex Offender Statutes: Society's Need for Protection Versus an Individual's Constitutional Rights
Journal: Law and Psychology Review  Volume:20  Dated:(Spring 1996)  Pages:263-274
Author(s): L A S Turner
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 12
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Sex offender registration and community notification laws are examined with respect to their background, intent, impacts on offenders and the community, and constitutionality.
Abstract: Brutal crimes committed by repeat offenders have led to a variety of statutes regarding sexual predators. Thirty-four States had sex offender registration laws as of July 1994, and 14 of those States allowed at least some public access to registry information. Washington's law also provides for preventive detention for life on a second conviction and allows indefinite incarceration of a convicted violent sex offender after the sentence is complete if a jury finds the offender likely to commit further sex offenses. Similar legislation has been proposed in other States. Nevertheless, politicians and therapists have vast differences in their opinions regarding sex offenses and their prevention. The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the State's civil commitment law and the sex offender registration law. However, an appellate court has held that a California law requiring registration for the misdemeanor crime of indecent exposure is unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment. The notification requirement of sexual predator laws has yet to be challenged in court on constitutional grounds. Only time and judicial decisions will determine whether the sex offender laws are the best way to balance public safety and offenders' rights. Much skepticism remains in both the mental health and civil liberties communities. However, laws are likely to become stricter until the court system curtails them. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Corrections policies; Sex offenders; State laws
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