Knowledge as Power: Criminal Registration and Community Notification Laws in America
Stanford University Press, 2009
9 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Sep 2009
Date Written: August 25, 2009
Societies have long been concerned about the criminal threat posed by potentially dangerous individuals in their midst. America is surely no exception. Knowledge as Power traces the evolution of a particular strategy intended to address this anxiety - criminal registration and community notification laws.
While their European origins extend back to at least the eighteenth century, America’s criminal registration laws took shape in the 1930s as a means of monitoring gangsters, thereafter experienced an extended period of desuetude and then a dramatic resurgence in the 1990s, when they were complemented by community notification laws. Today, the laws collectively function much as "Wanted" posters did in the Frontier West, publicly disclosing registrants' identifying information, involving not just law enforcement but also entire communities in the criminal monitoring process.
Knowledge as Power provides the first in-depth history and analysis of criminal registration and community notification laws, examining the forces driving their rapid nationwide proliferation, as well as how the laws have fundamentally affected American society. The book’s Introduction is posted here. Other contents include: Historical Antecedents; Early Laws: 1930-1990; Modern Laws: 1990-Today; Social and Political Catalysts; Effects and Consequences; Law, Privacy, and Governance; Prospects for the Future; and Conclusion.
Keywords: registration, community notification, megan's laws, sex offender, crime control
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