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The Impact of Law Enforcers Registering Sex Offenders once Released

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The increase in sex offenders repeating the same sex crimes have prompted legislature to ratify laws in order to increase social controls on these offenders. The laws enacted requires released sex offenders to register with law enforcement agencies. They are also required to supply their addresses and any other identifying information to law enforcement. The federal laws also require states to enact laws that are in line with Wetterling Act that forms the basis of federal sex offenders(Matson, 1999). Wetterling act requires sex offenders to register with a state agency or law enforcement for at least ten years. Offenders are also required to update their address information when they move to a new location, periodically verifying their addresses, and releasing registration information as necessary. The act also requires federal or state agency to acquire registration information from offenders upon their release. In 1996, Megan’s Law amended the act requiring state or any other agency to release any information they have on sex offenders as necessary for public safety. However, the law gives states the discretion to state agencies on which information to release. In October, 1999, the Pam Lychner Act amended the Wetterling Act requiring that sex offenders with aggravated sex offense or registerable offenses to be subject for registration on lifetime basis. Various researches have been conducted on the federal sex offender’s policy with an aim of pointing out eh weaknesses and offer suggestions on how to improve them. Accordingly, this paper evaluates the federal Sex offender Registration and Notification (SORN)policy, its strengths and weaknesses as well as the associated research strengths and weaknesses.

The federal sex offender policy envisions a unique registration procedure. Upon release from parole or probation, an offender registers with the court or department of corrections. For example in Oregon, the offender registers with Oregon department of Corrections supervisor. Then, the community supervisor maintains the information until the duration of registration ends. Thereafter, law enforcement agencies such as the sheriff department help to update the offender’s registration information. Mostly, the information collected includes offender’s name, address, fingerprints, a photograph, and identification number(Matson, 1999).The registration period goes for ten years while in some states, aggressive offenders register for a lifetime. The procedure also requires offenders to duly notify the enforcement agencies on their new addresses upon changing area of residence. The policy procedure also requires law enforcement and state officials to inform the society on the sex offenders, pass the offenders information to other states the offender might wish to live, and duly service the FBI with the offender’s fingerprints as well as their photographs.

The federal policy on sex offender registration and notification have numerous strengths. Frist, by providing the public with information about the offenders especially on their locations and identities help the public avoiding putting themselves in situations where they might fall victim. While the community understands that a certain individual in their residence is a sex convict or offender, the members can avoid to be with them in secluded places and also prevent their children from being close to the offenders(Matson, 1999). As such, the information will have reduced the prevalence of sex related crimes. Moreover, with the public having heightened awareness, any suspicious actions or activities by the offender will be notified to the police who will consequently respond and prevent any offence. Furthermore, as the offender knows that the community is quite aware of them and is constantly watching on them, then it may discourage them from repeating the offence thereby reducing sex crimes. Secondly, by making the whole society know about its sex offenders may discourage non- registered or those contemplating to commit a sex offense act from doing so as information about them will be made public. Most sex offenders have a very hard time getting a place to study as well as getting employment as information about them is available to the public. Even after joining college or any other school, the whole school get notified on their crimes. Similarly, most employers hesitate employing people convicted of sex crimes. Accordingly, offenders contemplating of committing such an offense may abstain from doing so due to repercussions(Matson, 1999). Lastly, the policy has strength in that it makes it easy for states to coordinate their activities in preventing and capturing of sex offenders with relative ease. The information obtained from registration of sex offenders is fed into central registry where it can be easily accessed by law enforcement agencies across all the states. Furthermore, fingerprints and DNA samples of the offender are kept forwarded Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accordingly, an offender who might change their residence without notifying the enforcement agencies can be traced with ease in case they commit a similar offence in another state. As such, it helps reduce prevalence of sex crimes across the states.

On the other hand, the policy has numerous weaknesses. First, inability to effectively prove the authenticity of information that offenders provide constitutes the policy major weakness(Levenson, 2008). In most states, it is proving difficult to keep track of addresses and identifying information leading to possession of inaccurate information. For instance, in the state of Connecticut, the state police pointed out fifty percent to their registration information was inaccurate or was missing (Matson, 1999). Secondly, the policy depending on law enacted across various states forms another of its major weakness (Levenson, 2008).Various states have different registerable sex crimes. As such, it makes it difficult to keep track of offender’s movement across different states as their acts might not amount to a sexual offence in other states. Lastly, the policy requirement that information on sex offenders constitutes its weakness in that it may be counterproductive. When the public becomes aware of the offender, the offender might find it difficult to reintegrate with the society as finding a place of residence and employment becomes difficult. Consequently, the offenders might feel isolated and unstable making them to recommit the act. As such, the policy would have destroyed rather than transformed the offender(Matson, 1999).

In 2009 research by Elizabeth J. Letourneau titled, “Evaluating the effectiveness of sex offender registration and notification policies for reducing sexual violence against women,” evaluates whether the registration and notification policy resulted in reduction of sexual crimes in South Carolina. Moreover, it evaluates as to whether the decline could be attributed to the policy’s ability to prevent first time offenders or reducing recidivism for known offenders.

According to the research report, there was an 11 percent decline in first-time sex crime arrest after the introduction of the policy. The research also found out that six years after South Carolina implemented its online sex offender’s registry, there was no notable decrease in sex related crimes in the state. As such the research attributes the finding to people’s failure to visit its website. In addition, the research found out that registered sex offenders were likely to recidivate akin to non-registered offenders(Levenson, 2008). Lastly, the research found no significant difference between sexual recidivism of registered offenders and those who filed to register. As such, failure to register, the research concludes, does not predict sexual recidivism. Moreover, survival analysis of offenders indicate that there were no significant differences between those who chose to register and those who abstained with only a month’s differences in their survival years(Mercado et al, 2011).

The research had two major strengths. First, it used a wide range of data sources thereby validating the authenticity of the research findings. For instance, the study made use of sex offender registry records found in South Carolina(Mercado et al, 2011). The research also made use of adult criminal history records obtained from computerized criminal history records from SLED. Lastly, the research also evaluated juvenile justice records. The records ran from January 1995 to December 2005. As such, the research results would be regarded as ostensible as they are based on a great deal of evidence. Another strength of the research is that it evaluates a wide range of sex-related crimes as well as follow up analysis(Mercado et al, 2011). The research evaluated al form of sexual assaults rather than constraining itself on one type of crime. As such, it was comprehensive making the research findings far reaching.

However, the research had one major weakness in that it only evaluated the records of one state. Bearing in mind that United States has 47 states, using the records of only one states to evaluate the effectiveness of a federal sex policy seems would be improper(Mercado et al, 2011). As such, the research findings cannot effectively evaluate the effect of the policy in reducing the crimes in the United States. Lastly, causal explanations of the findings are speculative hence night not fully determine the utility of Sex offender Registration and Notification policy(Mercado et al, 2011).

SORN policy have in action since 1999. In areas where it has been actively instituted, there has been observed a reduction in sex-related offences. As such, the conclusion will be that with effective implementation, the policy has the potential to reduce sex offences across the United States. However, as some researches point out there is need to reevaluate the policy especially on reporting disclosing offenders’ information to the public to ensure that will convert sex offenders to useful citizens rather than destroy them through victimization.

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The Impact Of Law Enforcers Registering Sex Offenders Once Released. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from
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