Registered Sex Offenders in the United States: Behind the Numbers

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Although sex offender registration and notification policies have occupied an increasingly prominent place on state and federal crime control agendas, much policy discourse has occurred amid a dearth of reliable and relevant national data. This article presents the results of a study designed to broaden knowledge about the registered sex offender (RSO) population and the content of the nationÕs sex offender registries. The authors analyze state-level RSO populations across several dimensions, including levels of public Internet disclosure, RSO residential status, supervision status, and assigned risk levels. Findings suggest significant interstate variation across these dimensions, and indicate that the nationÕs RSO population is considerably more diverse and complex than commonly portrayed in the media and in policy debates. Implications for federal and state policies aimed at reforming the nationÕs sex offender registries are discussed.

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Crime & Delinquency



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