Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders
- 907 Downloads
The purpose of this study was to better understand the impact of sex offender registration and notification laws on the family members of registered sex offenders (RSO). An online survey was utilized to collect data from 584 family members across the U.S. Employment problems experienced by the RSO, and subsequent financial hardships, emerged as the most pressing issue identified by family members. The likelihood of housing disruption was correlated with residential restriction laws; larger buffer distances led to increased frequencies of housing crisis. Family members living with an RSO were more likely to experience threats and harassment by neighbors. Children of RSOs reportedly experienced adverse consequences including stigmatization and differential treatment by teachers and classmates. More than half had experienced ridicule, teasing, depression, anxiety, fear, or anger. Unintended consequences can impact family members’ ability to support RSOs in their efforts to avoid recidivism and successfully reintegrate. Implications for criminal justice policy and practice are discussed.
KeywordsRegistered sex offender Family members Megan’s law Sexual abuse
- Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, (2006).Google Scholar
- Adkins, G., Huff, D., & Stageberg, P. (2000). The Iowa sex offender registry and recidivism. Des Moines: Iowa Department of Human Rights.Google Scholar
- Anderson, A. L., & Sample, L. (2008). Public awareness and action resulting from sex offender community notification laws. Criminal Justice Policy Review. Online First, doi:0887403408316705v1.
- Barnes, J. C., Dukes, T., Tewksbury, R., & DeTroye, T. (2008). Predicting the impact of a statewide residence restriction law on South Carolina sex offenders. Criminal Justice Policy Review. Online First, doi:10.1177/0887403408320842.
- Brannon, Y. N., Levenson, J. S., Fortney, T., & Baker, J. N. (2007). Attitudes about community notification: A comparison of sexual offenders and the non-offending public. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research & Treatment, 19(4), 369–380.Google Scholar
- Chajewski, M., & Mercado, C. C. (2008). An analysis of sex offender residency restrictions in Newark, New Jersey. Sex Offender Law Report, 9, 1–6.Google Scholar
- Colorado Department of Public Safety (2004). Report on safety issues raised by living arrangements for and location of sex offenders in the community. Denver, CO: Sex Offender Management Board.Google Scholar
- Faul, F., Buchner, A., Erdfelder, E., & Lang, A.-G. (2008). GPOWER version 3.0.10. Germany: Universitat Kiel.Google Scholar
- Hirsch, A. E., Dietrich, S. M., Landau, R., Schneider, P. D., Ackelsberg, I., Bernstein-Baker, J., et al. (2002). Every door closed: Barriers facing parents with criminal records. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy.Google Scholar
- Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (1994) Public Law 103–322.Google Scholar
- Laub, J. H., & Sampson, R. J. (2001). Understanding desistance from crime. Crime and Justice, 28, 1–69.Google Scholar
- Levenson, J. S., Brannon, Y., Fortney, T., & Baker, J. (2007a). Public perceptions about sex offenders and community protection policies. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 7(1), 1–25.Google Scholar
- Lieb, R., & Nunlist, C. (2008). Community notification as viewed by Washington’s Citizens: A ten-year follow-up (No. 08-03-1101). Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.Google Scholar
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2008). Retrieved 8/14/08, from http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/sex-offender-map.pdf.
- Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2008). Demographics of Internet Users. Retrieved 9/12/08, from http://www.pewinternet.org/trends/User_Demo_7.22.08.htm.
- Pokela, J., Denny, E., Steblea, I., & Melanson, F. (2008). Don’t hang up yet: A comparison of online and telephone survey methodologies. Strategic Health Care Marketing, 25(7), 4–7.Google Scholar
- Prescott, J. J., & Rockoff, J. E. (2008). Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior? Retrieved 6/6/08, from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1100663.
- Raosoft. (2008). Sample size calculator. Retrieved 6/13/08, from http://www.ezsurvey.com/samplesize.html.
- Tewksbury, R. (2004). Experiences and attitudes of registered female sex offenders. Federal Probation, 68(3), 30–34.Google Scholar
- Tewksbury, R., & Levenson, J. S. (under review). Stress and collateral consequences for families of registered sex offenders.Google Scholar
- Tewksbury, R., & Mustaine, E. E. (2006). Where to find sex offenders: An examination of residential locations and neighborhood conditions. Criminal Justice Studies, 19(1), 61–75.Google Scholar
- Tewksbury, R., & Mustaine, E. (in press). Stress and collateral consequences for registered sex offenders. Journal of Public Management and Social Policy.Google Scholar
- Tewksbury, R., Mustaine, E., & Stengel, K. M. (2008). Examining Rates of Sexual Offenses from a Routine Activities Perspective Victims and Offenders, 3(1), 75–85.Google Scholar
- Travis, J. (2005). But they all come back: Facing the challenges of prisoner reentry. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Travis, J., & Waul, M. (Eds.). (2003). Prisoners once removed: The impact of incarceration and reentry on children, families, and communities. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Uggen, C., Manza, J., & Behrens, A. (2004). Less than the average citizen: Stigma, role transition, and the civic reintegration of convicted felons. In S. Maruna, & R. Immarigeon (Eds.), After crime and punishment: Pathways to offender reintegration (pp. 261–293). Devon, UK: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
- Washington State Institute for Public Policy (2005). Sex offender sentencing in Washington State: Did community notification influence recidivism?. Olympia: Author.Google Scholar
- Wright, K. B. (2005). Researching Internet-based populations: Advantages and disadvantages of online survey research, online questionnaire authoring software packages, and web survey services. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10.Google Scholar
- Zevitz, R. G. (2006). Sex offender community notification: Its role in recidivism and offender reintegration. Criminal Justice Studies, 19(2), 193–208.Google Scholar
- Zgoba, K., Levenson, J. S., & McKee, T. (2008). Examining the impact of sex offender residence restrictions on housing availability. Criminal Justice Policy Review. Online First, doi:10.1177/0887403408322119.