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NCJ Number: 201364 Find in a Library
Title: Sex Offender Community Notification: Experiences From America
Journal: Howard Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:42  Issue:3  Dated:July 2003  Pages:217-228
Author(s): Terry Thomas
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 12
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article examines the experiences of “community notification” of sex offenders in the United States.
Abstract: In the United Kingdom, the Home Office has refused to initiate a public right of access to the sex offender register because of the fear of vigilantism and of driving sex offenders “underground.” In the United States, sex offender registers started in some States as far back as the 1940's. There was little in the way of any preliminary research or evaluated pilot schemes to precede the laws for registration and the right of public access to those registers. Classification of the risk posed by sex offenders is carried out by various agencies. The courts in some States exercise this discretion at the point of sentence, but elsewhere it is left to law enforcement or corrections officials. The manner of notifying communities that a sex offender has moved in varies between States and within a State depending on classification. Some of the main forms of communication are leaflets or fliers, a community notification meeting, and the Internet. In the United Kingdom, both professionals and politicians remain reticent about giving the public a right of access to the sex offender register. Whether or not open access would make communities any safer remains an open question. Research in the United States found that the exercise of community notification was draining on the resources of police and probation and an impediment to good offender rehabilitation. Vigilantism has taken place in the United States but not on the scale experienced in the United Kingdom, where in general, no community notification policy exists. The decision to give communities information about sex offenders living in their midst leads to policies that require practical arrangements to secure implementation to disseminate that information. Arrangements have to be fair to offenders, especially if dissemination is only going to be on those assessed as likely to re-offend, and have to engage the community in such a way as they will not abuse the information they get by resorting to vigilantism. 2 notes, 27 references
Main Term(s): Sex Offender Registration; United Kingdom (UK)
Index Term(s): Foreign criminal justice systems; Mandatory sex offender treatment; Sex offenders; State laws; Victim services; Victims rights
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