Living Under Sex Offender Laws: The Collateral Consequences for Offenders and Their Families
Individuals convicted of crimes often face barriers upon returning to society, such as full participation in the economy, the polity, the housing market, and other citizenship activities. Without a stake in society, people can become disengaged from conventional activities and feel free to deviate from societal norms. In this way, the consequences of criminal convictions may stimulate reoffending rather than prevent it. It is often difficult to overcome these consequences for those convicted of non-sexual crimes, but even more so for those convicted of sexual offenses. A plethora of sex offender laws have passed over the last 25 years, which have added a number of requirements for individuals convicted of sex crimes. Nationally, those convicted of sex crimes are mandated to register their residences with law enforcement agents, which are then posted on state and national websites, and they are restricted on where they can live, work, and socialize. These additional barriers are likely to isolate and disengage individuals convicted of sex crimes, which can increase the possibility of re-offending; however, in our research, we found that registered offenders and their family members have found alternative ways to circumvent the negative societal stigma, isolation, and their loneliness.
Drawing on original data, this book goes beyond the current state of knowledge regarding the consequences of sex offense laws. The authors discuss intended and unintended consequences of sex crime convictions, using new research to explore how offenders in the community and their family members manage these consequences and how sex offense laws influence life decisions and behaviors. The Durkheimian notion that integration into groups or societies can help regulate behaviors is important to the study of recidivism, and this book explores the role of isolation on sexual reoffending, how registered citizens, who have not reoffended, cope with having their personal information on the Internet, and how registered offenders participate in social activities when they are prohibited from entering so many places.