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10 Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 265 (2011)
The Need to Debate the Fate of Sex Offender Community Notification Laws

handle is hein.journals/crpp10 and id is 271 raw text is: POLICY ESSAY
BE H AV 10 R
The need to debate the fate of sex offender
community notification laws
Lisa L. Sample
University of Nebraska at Omaha
More than 10 years after the passage of sex offender registration and community
notification laws, research continues to suggest that few, if any, of their goals
have been realized. Many scholars suggest that these laws were intended to
affect sex offenders' behaviors and to reduce reoffending; yet to date, scant empirical evidence
of this effect has been found (Adkins, Huff, and Stageberg, 2000; Levenson, 2006; Schram
and Milloy, 1995; Walker, Madden, Vasquez, VanHouten, and Ervin-McLarty, 2005; Zevitz,
2006). As discussed by Bandy (2011, this issue), others argue that the goal of notification
is to engender self-protective behaviors among citizens; yet investigations into the public's
behaviors suggest that these laws do little to encourage individuals to adopt preventative
measures for themselves or their children (Anderson and Sample, 2008; Anderson, Evans,
and Sample, 2009; Beck and Travis, 2004). The lack of empirical evidence to demonstrate
reduced recidivism or changes in citizen's behaviors, coupled with the constitutional and
human rights questions surrounding these laws, have lead some scholars to conclude that
community notification has little value and should be repealed. In this policy essay, I suggest,
however, that much debate still needs to take place before deciding on the utility and the
fate of community notification laws.
The Functions of Law
With Gusfield's (1963) dramatistic theory of American politics, he introduced us to the
two functions of law. He explained that legislative action is often dramatic in nature, in
The author wishes to thank Mary K. Evans and David Sample for their feedback and suggestions. Direct
correspondence to Lisa L. Sample, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at
Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182 (e-mail: 1sample@mail.unomaha.edu).
DOI:10. 111 1/j. 1745-9133.2011.00706.x  Q 2011 American Society of Criminology  265
Criminology 6r Public Policy . Volume 10 * Issue 2

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