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Sex Offender Community Notification: Assessing the Impact in Wisconsin, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
179992
Date Published
Author(s)
Richard Zevitz; Mary Ann Farkas
Agencies
NIJ
Publication Series
Publication Type
Legislation/Policy Analysis
Grant Number(s)
98-IJ-CX-0015
Annotation
Research conducted in Wisconsin in 1998 assessed the perceptions of residents, law enforcement, probation/parole agents, and sex offenders regarding the effects of the State’s community notification law that authorizes officials to alert residents about the release and reintegration of sex offenders in their communities.
Abstract
Information came from surveys of 704 neighborhood residents at 22 community notification meetings, observations of these meetings, and a statewide survey of police and sheriffs’ agencies, field observations and a statewide survey of probation and parole agents, and personal interviews of 30 convicted sex offenders who were the topics of community notification, news media reports, or both. Results indicated that the public needs additional information about the purpose of notification meetings and the limits of notification laws. The percentage of attendees who left meetings feeling more concerned about the sex offender was nearly equal to the percentage who felt less concerned. Law enforcement agencies experienced few problems carrying out tasks prescribed by the notification law, but the cost of labor resources necessary for notification was an issue. Notification laws increased the workload of probation and parole officers who monitor sex offenders, especially for high-profile Special Bulletin Notification cases. All but one of the sex offenders interviewed stated that the community notification process adversely affected their transition from prison to the outside world. Housing resources for sex offenders released to notification areas were scarce. The analysis concluded that although the law’s primary goal of community protection is being served, law enforcement and corrections agencies bear a high cost in terms of personnel, time, and budgetary resources. Community notification also carries a personal cost for the sex offenders so identified; housing and employment are the most immediate needs. Figures, tables, reference notes, and 5 references
Date Created: December 3, 2007