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Seefeldt criticizes Kansas legislation restricting daily cash withdrawals from public assistance funds

Prescott says sex offender registries may increase recidivism by making offender re-assimilation impossible

Frey says rising numbers of younger minority voters mean Republicans must focus on fiscal not social issues

Highlights

Elizabeth Bruch wins Robert Merton Prize for paper in analytic sociology

Elizabeth Bruch wins ASA award for paper in mathematical sociology

Spring 2015 PSC newletter available now

Formal demography workshop and conference at UC Berkeley, August 17-21

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PSC Brown Bags will be back fall 2015


psc brown bag iconDo Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?

James J. Prescott (Law School, University of Michigan), Jonah Rockoff

10/12/2009, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

In recent decades, sex offenders have been the targets of some of the most far-reaching and novel crime legislation in the U.S. Two key innovations have been registration and notification laws which, respectively, require that convicted sex offenders provide valid contact information to law enforcement authorities, and that information on sex offenders be made public. Using detailed information on the timing and scope of changes in state law, we study how registration and notification affect the frequency of sex offenses and the incidence of offenses across victims, and we check for any change in police response to reported crimes. We find evidence that registration reduces the frequency of sex offenses by providing law enforcement with information on local sex offenders. As we predict from a simple model of criminal behavior, this decrease in crime is concentrated among “local” victims (e.g., friends, acquaintances, neighbors), while there is little evidence of a decrease in crimes against strangers. We also find evidence that community notification deters crime, but in a way unanticipated by legislators. Our results suggest that community notification deters first-time sex offenders, but may increase recidivism by registered offenders by increasing the relative attractiveness of criminal behavior. This finding is consistent with work by criminologists showing that notification may contribute to recidivism by imposing social and financial costs on registered sex offenders and, as a result, making non-criminal activity relatively less attractive. We regard this latter finding as potentially important, given that the purpose of community notification is the reduction of recidivism.


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