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An Empirical Analysis of Registration and Notification Laws for Juvenile Sex Offenders

Stephanie Holmes

Northwestern University - Department of Management & Strategy

May 1, 2009

Since the 1990s, there has been a dramatic change in the way state legislatures and the federal government attempt to prevent sex offending. Across the country, two types of laws - registration laws and notification laws - have emerged. Passed in 1994, the federal Jacob Wetterling Act requires all states to maintain registries of offenders convicted of sex crimes or crimes against children. Passed in 1996, the federal Megan’s Law requires states to publicize information about offenders on their registries. Passed in 2006, the federal Adam Walsh Act will add more requirements for states, including a requirement that states include on their registries juveniles age fourteen and older who are adjudged delinquent or convicted in adult court of certain sex offenses. This paper estimates the effectiveness of sex offender registration and notification laws when they are applied to juveniles. Using state-level panel data for the period 1993-2007, I use a fixed-effects model to test the extent to which registration and notification laws for juveniles are predictive of juvenile sex offense arrest rates. The 1993-2007 period was used because most registration and notification requirements for juveniles were added during the mid- to late-1990s. I find that registration and notification laws are not significant predictors of the juvenile sex offense arrest rate. This finding suggests that registration and notification laws are ineffective at decreasing juvenile sex offending. It is also possible that registration and/or notification laws do, in fact, significantly decrease juvenile sex offending, but that this result is obscured by increased policing or reporting of juvenile sex offenses concurrent with the passage of registration and/or notification laws. However, incident-based statistics of juvenile sex offending suggest otherwise. The legal and policy implications of the empirical model are also discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

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Date posted: November 21, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Holmes, Stephanie, An Empirical Analysis of Registration and Notification Laws for Juvenile Sex Offenders (May 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1710745 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1710745

Contact Information

Stephanie Holmes (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - Department of Management & Strategy ( email )
Kellogg School of Management
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
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