As noted throughout this textbook and this chapter, there are many myths about sex offenders. More specifically, in this chapter, there are many myths in the form of assumptions about sex offenders and sex crimes that have culminated in what others have deemed as "feel-good" laws (Freeman-Longo, 1996). Thus far, there is little empirical evidence that such restrictive laws lead to fewer sex crimes.
Nevertheless, a series of U.S. laws have paved the way for other countries to implement laws to require sex offenders to register with law enforcement officials. In the U.S., this information is made public, and several states have enacted additional laws, including restrictions on where sex offenders can live. Only recently have there been hints of reconsidering such laws. For the time being, however, it appears these laws will probably stay in place for a considerable time.
- • Many countries have enacted sex-offender registration laws; however, the U.S. was the first to have these laws and currently has the strictest laws.
- • The Wetterling Act, passed in 1994, was the first U.S. law to require sex offenders to register with law enforcement officials.
- • The federal Megan's Law, passed in 1996, required that the public have access to information about registered sex offenders.
- • The Pam Lynchner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 led to a national sex-offender registry.
- • The Adam Walsh Act, also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), became law in 2006. It amended previous laws, establishing national guidelines, including a three-tier system of registration requirements.
- • The Office of Sex Offending Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) is responsible for assisting with the implementation of SORNA laws.
- • State and local governments are allowed to implement more restrictive laws than the minimum guidelines established by SORNA. This includes, but is not limited to, posting yard signs to notify others that a sex offender lives there, requiring sex-offender notification on drivers' licenses, and restricting where a sex offender can live.
- • Twenty states allow sex offenders to be civilly committed to an institution after they have completed their criminal sentences.