Examining current juvenile sex offender policies in the United States : a mixed methods approach

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2013-12

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Abstract

Over the past three decades, there has been a marked increase in juvenile sex offender legislation. The effect of these policies on reducing recidivism is not clear. The first two articles focus on the impact of Megan’s Law, utilizing a retrospective two-group time-series design to examine the sexual, violent, non-violent and status arrest rates for states where juveniles are required to register as sex offenders as compared to arrest rates in states where juveniles do not register as sex offenders and the data was analyzed using segmented regression analysis. There were no significant differences in the overall model or between groups for sexual or status arrest rates, nor in the between groups model for violent or non-violent arrest rates. However, there were significant differences in the overall model for violent and non-violent arrest rates before the passage of Megan’s law (violent: p = .000; non-violent: p = .030) and in the 11-year follow-up period (violent: p = .000; non-violent: p = .002). Implications of these findings are discussed. The last article focuses on Texas’s failure to pass the Adam Walsh Act, the most recent piece of juvenile sex offender legislation. The study uses a qualitative approach and data sources include targeted transcripts of the Senate and House hearings on the bill, as well as interviews with two of the staffers for the author of the bill. The data show Texas reached a tipping point and would not pass any more legislation in this area without data to prove its efficacy.

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