Since ancient times punishment has been used to prevent unwanted and especially criminal behavior. Punishment in jurisprudence, theology, and philosophy has been viewed as a means by which a human’s behavior can be changed. However, this method of changing people’s behavior has long been criticized. Policies against sexual offenders are not always effective – criminal sanctions have little or no effect on the dynamics of crime.
The current registry system arose in response to the brutal sexual crimes that had occurred in various states across the country and had been preceded by legislation and implementation. The main problem is that the effectiveness of the policy that sex offenders must be placed on the registry is rarely questioned. In addition, many Americans believe that a new approach is needed since being on such a list for life is not practical.
Both chapters discuss how imperfect policies affect the number of crimes committed. However, Mallicoat and Gardiner (2013) focus more on how policymakers assess the value of the applied actions. Reddington and Bonham (2012), on the other hand, concentrate on describing the consequences of mistakes resulting from a particular law. It seems that policymakers followed the principles of seven-step planning when creating policies. For example, they analyzed the problem, which is a large number of sexual crimes committed. Further, the goal was formulated, namely the reduction of the number of crimes and the overall control of crime. Then a policy design was created, an action plan and a monitoring plan were created. However, the question arises on how thoughtfully the possible risks and consequences were calculated. It is also unclear whether the policy will continue to be used or whether partial changes will need to be made.
Obviously, for example, when huge sums of money are spent on providing monitoring of the activities of criminals, far less money will go to helping victims of sexual crimes. This unwise waste of resources due to the fact that offenders are placed on the registry for life. If such a trend has been allowed to occur, it is safe to assume that it is an oversight on the part of the authorities. Consequence assessment has also been ineffective because sex offenders are often individuals close to the victim’s family. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that laws restricting the right of criminals to reside in certain places actually protect children. It is precisely because of the offender’s personality that the dynamics of crime in this area cannot be completely controlled. The number of missing sex offenders has increased in recent years, indicating that offenders prefer to simply relocate to areas where they are not subject to restrictions.
In addition, online disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the greatest risk of reoffending. At this point, however, it has happened more than once that data on offenders has become available even in cases where the crimes were minor or were committed a long time ago. Such weaknesses in the system may cause tensions in society but in no way make citizens feel safer. For example, information about where pedophiles live, as well as their photographs, is publicly available in a national database on the Internet. There is a special mailing list, due to which parents can find out if a pedophile lives nearby. Citizens will most likely start to trust people less and perceive passers-by as a threat, which will not help the investigation and prevention of crimes.
In designing the existing projects, the creators aimed to prevent an increase in recidivism and a decrease in crime. However, many researchers point out that there is virtually no empirical evidence to suggest this at this point. Some scholars consider an effective policy when sex offenders are registered in a non-public registry. This has been proven to reduce the number of people who commit sexual assault. However, on the contrary, public registration causes recidivism among those who have already been involved in committing these kinds of crimes.
The weakness of the measures taken against sex offenders is that putting them on the registry reduces their chances of rehabilitation. It will be very difficult for such people to be employed again. In addition, there is a difference in the seriousness of the crime, but the latter is not taken into account in the registry. All offenders are included in the archive regardless of how dangerous and illegal their act was. Taking away the right to privacy is also a weakness of politics, everyone should be guaranteed the right not to have their personal data made public. In the authorities’ policy against sexual offenses, intensive supervision and monitoring by specially trained probation officers can be considered the most effective measures. It has also been empirically proven that prevention and education in the community and outreach to victims are effective strategies for counteracting the rise in crime. These kinds of educational components must be developed in collaboration with the police, sex offender treatment providers, rape crisis advocates, and municipal officials.
Mallicoat, S. L., & Gardiner, C. L. (2013). Criminal justice policy. SAGE Publications.
Reddington, F. R., & Bonham, G. J. (2012). Flawed criminal justice policies. Carolina Academic Press.