We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.


December 2009:

The intention of sex offender registration and notification policies (SORN) is to improve community safety, deter sex crimes, and provide law enforcement with tools for more comprehensive and coordinated approaches to sex crime investigations. The primary aims of this project, funded by the Center for Disease Control, were to empirically examine the effects of South Carolina’s sex offender registration and notification (SORN) policies with respect to (1) preventing initial acts of juvenile sex crimes, (2) reducing juvenile sexual recidivism, and (3) influencing juvenile judicial decision making. This Brief presents a summary of individual studies that addressed these three project aims, and provides general conclusions and and policy recommendations.


Summary: We have completed one study that examined whether South Carolina’s sex offender registration and notification (SORN) policy was associated with a general deterrent effect on juvenile sex crimes1. Using juvenile justice data from 1991 through 2004, we analyzed trends of first time juvenile sex crimes across three time periods: prior to 1995 (the year South Carolina’s SORN policy was initially implemented), between 1995 and 1998, and from 1999 (the year the policy was revised to include online registration) to 2004. Initial results suggested a significant eterrent effect of SORN on first-time juvenile sex crimes. Specifically, the probability of first-time sex crime charges declined significantly between the pre-SORN time period and subsequent years. However, comparison analyses with nonsex offenses identified a similar pattern with first-time robbery crimes. Follow-up analyses indicated that the apparent declines identified for first-time sex and robbery offenses were due to another legislative change, also enacted in 1995, that moved the prosecution of 16-year-old defendants from juvenile to adult court. When these cases were included in the database, follow-up trend analyses indicated no significant post-SORN reduction. Thus, neither South Carolina’s original SORN policy nor the modification that required online notificaition for some juvenile registrants was associated with deterrence of juvenile sex crimes.


Summary: We have completed two studies examining the influence of SORN on juvenile sexual and nonsexual recidivism rates. In the first study2 registered and nonregistered male youth were matched on six important characteristics: year of offense, age at offense, race, prior person offenses, prior nonperson offenses, and type of sexual offense (111 matched pairs). Recidivism was assessed across an average 4-year follow-up period. There were just two sexual offense reconvictions, too few to analyze differences between the groups. There were no long-term differences between the groups with respect to new nonsexual violent offense convictions. There were significant differences with respect to new nonperson offense convictions. Specifically, registered youth were more likely than nonregistered youth to have new nonperson offense convictions across the follow-up period. Follow-up analyses indicated that registered youth were more likely than nonregistered youth to be charged and convicted of relatively minor, misdemeanor offenses (e.g., public order offenses). This increased rate of convictions for minor offenses might reflect a police surveillance effect. Results did not support a reduction in recidivism attributable to SORN.

The second study3 examined the recidivism rates of 1,275 male juveniles with sex crime convictions acorss an average 9-year follow-up period. Results indicated that being registered had a marginal effect (p < .10) on increasing the risk of sex crime charges but not new sex crime convictions. Likewise, analyses also suggested that being registered had a significcant effect (p < .01) on increasing the risk of new nonperson crime charges but not new convictions. Thus, relative to nonregistered youth, registered youth were at greater risk for new sex and nonsex/nonperson charges but not new convictions. This increased rate of charges but not convictions suggests that law enforcement more quickly apprehend youth who are registered, perhaps because they are more familiar with these youth (due to in-person registration requirements) and also because they view registered youth to pose higher risks than nonregistered youth. That the charges did not result in convictions suggests insufficient evidence to support a conviction. Results did not support a reduction in recidivism attributable to SORN. For the remainder of this paper: by Elizabeth J. Letourneau

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