Research on sex offender laws and their effects on people and society

Q & A about Sex Offender Laws
by Marshall Burns, Ph.D. 

Click on a heading to be taken to the questions and answers in that group or click on a question number to be taken directly to the discussion of that question.

Introduction to sex offenses and the registry
     1. What is a sex offender registry?
     2. How many sex offenders are there?

Characteristics of sex offenders
     3. Should I care about sex offenders? Aren’t they all “perverts” and sexual deviants?
     4. Are most sex offenders child molesters?
     5. Are people on the registry dangerous criminals that need to be kept away from children?
     6. Can someone really be a sex offender for public urination?
     7. Do pedophiles attack children brutally when they can, and then kill them?
     8. What is the medical definition of a pedophile?
     9. Is it true that most sexual activity with children is done by their family members, and not by strangers?
     10. Are sex offenders likely to commit another sex offense?

Juvenile sex offenders
     11. Do kids who are just “messing around” have to worry about these laws?
     12. How young are kids getting into trouble for innocently “messing around”?
     13. How old are the youngest people on the registry?
     14. Is psychological counseling appropriate for kids who get caught being sexual?
     15. But we can’t just let kids run amuck. We have to do something to punish unruly children.
     16. Can a juvenile be put in civil commitment for a sex offense?

Criminal sentences for sex offenders
     17. When sex offenders are sent to prison, aren’t they just getting what they deserve?
     18. Can sex offenders get the death penalty for a nonviolent offense?

False accusations
     19. Do our laws effectively protect innocent people?
     20. Have all sex offenders been found guilty of sex crimes fair and square under due process of law?
     21. Are many people falsely accused of rape?
     22. Are many people falsely accused of having sex with a juvenile?
     23. Does something have to be seriously wrong before a sex offense would be reported to the police?
     24. Can someone be prosecuted based on a witness’s “recovered memories”?

Life of a registered sex offender
     25. Can sex offenders live okay if they just stay out of trouble?
     26. Do sex offenders face job discrimination?
     27. Is it hard for a sex offender to find a place to live, even if he or she has money?
     28. Are sex offenders prohibited from being in certain public places?
     29. Are sex offenders limited in travel?
     30. Do sex offenders have to wear global positioning devices that trace their movements?
     31. Have electronic chips been implanted in sex offenders’ bodies to permanently keep track of them?

Civil commitment
     32. What is “civil commitment”?
     33. How many people in the US are in civil commitment for sex offenses?
     34. Are sex offenders in civil commitment treated for the mental disorders that caused them to get into trouble?
     35. Are sex offenders released from civil commitment when they complete treatment?
     36. Are only the most violent, predatory criminals put in civil commitment?
     37. Can a juvenile be put in civil commitment for a sex offense?

Other legal issues
     38. Does putting someone on the registry for an old offense violate ex post facto provisions of the Constitution?
     39. Does the “statute of limitations” prevent someone from being prosecuted for a sex crime that happened a long time ago?
     40. Is the age of consent set by state or federal law?

Effects on our society
     41. What kinds of harm do we need to be concerned about protecting children from?
     42. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Aren’t we better off if we just make sure that children and men are never alone together?
     43. Do mandatory reporting laws discourage people in need of counseling for sexual problems from seeking out professional help?
     44. What is the harm in ostracizing people who have done bad things, and keeping them away from everyone else?
     45. If what you say about all this is true, why aren’t human rights advocates protesting it?
     46. Do legislators and government officials know what’s going on? If these laws are such a problem, why aren’t they fixing them?

Initiatives for Change
     47. What changes have been called for by organizations active in this area?
     48. Has there been any progress in the work to make sex offender laws more reasonable and effective?

 
This page posted on January 28, 2009.
This page copyright © 2007–2014, Marshall Burns. All rights reserved.