Sexual offender laws and prevention of sexual violence or recidivism

Am J Public Health. 2010 Mar;100(3):412-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.153254. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Sexual violence is a significant public health problem in the United States. In an effort to decrease the incidence of sexual assault, legislators have passed regulatory laws aimed at reducing recidivism among convicted sexual offenders. As a result, sex offenders living in the United States are bound by multiple policies, including registration, community notification, monitoring via a global positioning system, civil commitment, and residency, loitering, and Internet restrictions. These policies have led to multiple collateral consequences, creating an ominous environment that inhibits successful reintegration and may contribute to an increasing risk for recidivism. In fact, evidence on the effectiveness of these laws suggests that they may not prevent recidivism or sexual violence and result in more harm than good.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information / ethics
  • Access to Information / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Participation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Participation / methods
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mandatory Reporting / ethics
  • Parents / psychology
  • Politics
  • Public Health / ethics
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Public Health / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Registries / ethics
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Offenses / ethics
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology