Sexual Violence Legislation: A Review of Case Law and Empirical Research
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 20(4), November 2014, 443-462
20 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2015
Date Written: August 6, 2014
Sexual violence is a serious problem that affects those victimized, their families, and the community around them. Much sex offense legislation appears designed to respond to the collective fear that sexual violence engenders, with legislative efforts (intentionally or unintentionally) tending to target low-base-rate “stranger danger” types of offenses. This article reviews prevailing forms of sex offense legislation, providing a summary of recent case law and an examination of empirical findings that bear upon the functioning and impact of common legislative responses to these “stranger danger” fears, including sexually violent predator laws, registration and community notification statutes, residence restrictions, and electronic monitoring. Although it is difficult to conduct well-controlled studies that test whether sex offense legislation works, extant research provides, at most, limited support for the value of much current legislation. This article concludes by suggesting areas of research need and outlining how empirical data may help to shape sex offense legislation so as to most successfully reduce sexual violence.
Keywords: sex crime, sexual offense, offending, sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, stranger danger, sexual legislation, sex offense, sexual violence, sexually violent predator, electronic monitoring, victim, sex offenders
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation