Sex offenders, sex offenses, public fear, policy


This study investigated the public's agreement with sex offender management policies. Respondents (N = 703) were randomly sampled from the state of Michigan, using a CATI system. Two pathanalysis models were used to test if personal characteristics, level of fear of sex offenders, and misinformation regarding this population were predictive of agreement with: (a) sex offender registration and community notification policies; and (b) more severe sanctions (life in prison and chemical castration). The findings suggest that greater fear of sex offenders and acceptance of misinformation were predictive of more support of sex offender management policies. Research has found that these policies are costly and ineffective in promoting community safety. Effective and efficient policy development occurs when policy is based on evidence. Community and legislative education may promote thoughtful policy development that holds offenders accountable and promotes successful reintegration.

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