The Politics of Fear: The Dubious Logic Underlying Sex Offender Registration Statutes - Proposals for Restoring Measures of Judicial Discretion to Sex Offender Management
AuthorHuffman, Mary Katherine
AdvisorRichardson, James T.
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Existing sex offender management legislation generally represents an emotional response to a few well-publicized incidents involving child-victims. Federal and state legislative initiatives mandating sex offender registration for all defendants convicted of a sexually-oriented offense lack an empirical foundation and should be modified to embrace the scholarly research produced in the past twenty-five years. The abundant research focused on sex offenders, while persuasive, fails to consider the role of the judiciary in sex offender management. Sex offenders can be more effectively supervised by restoring a measure of judicial discretion to offender management. Judicial involvement in sex offender management should include discretion to determine registration duties for low-risk first-time sex offenders, authority to consider individualized risk assessment in the imposition of registration duties and in managing offenders, expanded jurisdiction to authorize deregistration for low-level first-time sex offenders, and the implementation of specialized sex offender courts modeled after other successful problem-solving courts.