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Comparative Analysis of Sex Offender Policies

1. Nature and extent

The menace sexual assault is entrenched in the societal structure and has been a living terror for all. The issue of sexual crime and violence associated with it is a legislative priority and have been over decades for the living crime of sexual offenders and higher rates for such offenders to re-offend has been discussed over time. The fear of recidivist sex offenders has been far fetching and has terrorized women and children specially with the rising possibilities of re-offending. This has been the primary reason to initiate the Sex offender Public Registry to spread awareness and allow people to be cautious of such activity.

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This study will particularly take up the policies and approaches adopted by the United States of America as well the United Kingdom. The approaches adopted by both the countries in tackling the issue of recidivism in sex offenders have been considerably different but active legislative interference has seen to devise a system that publicized sex offenders in a community, spreading consciousness and vigilance to take precautionary measures in case of such a possibility arises.

Incarceration and probation of sex offenders were a means to ensure that there is sufficient social control executed on the released offenders yet the incident of Megan in the USA and Sarah in the UK has led to develop separate body of laws to set up an extensive set of laws that emphasise on the various kinds and mindsets sex offenders have. The legislative approaches in the USA are all encompassing and far reaching in terms of provisions specially drafted for sex offenders who are on release. About 50 states have incorporated the measures of Sex Offender registries as it has been noticed via researches that registration of an offender effects the crime rate rather than just notification. However, the approach taken up in the United Kingdom is slightly different and relies on an individualistic approach and intentionally decided to build up painstakingly controlled arrivals of data, essentially depending on legislative offices to work in multi-disciplinary gatherings. Even though, both USA and UK have resorted to other measures to keep a check on implicit sex offenders along with the convicted ones, in order to secure a safe space for the potential victims.

  1. See Timothy Fortney, Jill Levenson, Yolanda Brannon & Juanita N. Baker. Myths and Facts about Sexual Offenders: Implications for Treatment and Public Policy (2007),
  2. Lissa Griffin & Kate Blacker, Megan's Law and Sarah's Law: A Comparative Study of Sex Offender Community Notification Schemes in the United States and the United Kingdom, 46 Crim. L. Bull. 987 (2010), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/750/.
  3. Lieb, Roxanne & Kemshall, Hazel & Thomas, Terry. (2011). Post-release controls for sex offenders in the U.S. and UK. International journal of law and psychiatry. 34. 226-32. 10.1016/j.ijlp.2011.04.006.
  4. Prescott, J. & Rockoff, J. (2008). Do sex offender registration and notification laws affect criminal behavior? National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 13803. 30 Protection from Harassment Act 1997, c 40
2.​Explanations

To measure the crime rate perpetrated by sexual offenders it is extremely important to understand the psychological factors that drive the offenders in the first place which might explain the driving factors that lead them to re-offend. Studying the psychological factors also may reflect the ideology that pushes them to exert such violence against women and children and in many cases men too. The theories that must be studied to draw relevant explanations are:

1. Single, Multi an Micro level factors

2. Biological Theories

3. Sociological Theories

4. Integrated Theory

5. Quadripartite Theory of Sexual Aggression

6. Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression

7. The Pathways Model

3.​Responses

The contrast in the study will lie in:

a. The Community Notification measures taken up by both the countries.

b. The Sex offender Registry that are maintained in the two countries

  1. Gannon, Theresa & Ó Ciardha, Caoilte. (2012). Psychological Theories Related to Sexual Violence and Abuse.
  2. School of Education, University of Glasgow, The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, “ Theories and causes of crime”, < http://www.sccjr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/SCCJR-Causes-of-Crime.pdf> accessed on 22nd January, 2021
  3. Ibid
  4. Finkelhor, David. Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research. New York: Free Press, 1984.
  5. Hall, G. C. N., Hirschman, R., & Oliver, L. L. (1995). Sexual arousal and arousability to pedophilic stimuli in a community sample of normal men. Behavior Therapy, 26(4), 681–694. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80039-5
  6. Malamuth, Neil & Heavey, Christopher & Linz, Daniel. (1996). The Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. 23. 13-37. 10.1300/J076v23n03_03.
  7. Ward, T., & Beech, A. (2006). An integrated theory of sexual offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(1), 44–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2005.05.002

c. Megan’s law and Sarah’s law

d. The Public disclosure mechanism

e. The Social Control measures

There are certain differences that can be seen to drive the legislative structures and precautionary measures adopted in both the countries are primarily based on:

1. The Political structure that drives the legislative structure in UK and USA. The reliance placed on the central government are far too much in the UK as opposed to in the USA. This reflects the various differences in adopting and enacting legislations.

2. The policing power in the USA is limited and restricted which is in stark contrast to the autonomy enjoyed by the police in the UK. Therefore, a large part of dealing sex offenders are primarily dealt with the police, taking different shapes due to the alternate policing powers in each countries.

3. The position of media is vulnerable in the UK more in comparison to the USA. The media is held accountable and a rigorous approach is taken to deal with them and can go far as to holding them in contempt of court but in the US, apart from defamation charges, the media generally assumes more power in general. This speaks volumes about the space of privacy in the country which is equally fundamental in understanding the differed approaches in different country.

4. It can be inferred that establishing a community notification advertising a sex offender may lead to destroy the anonymity which is the essential purpose but also along with vigilance a stigma and name calling is inherently a part an dparcel of the system. It has often been discussed and debated that the psychological factors that drive sexual offenders to commit such a violent offence is mostly because of humiliation or discrimination faced, thereby encouraging the cycle of shame which is still a part of USAbut such practice is intolerant in the UK.

  1. Karen Wright. Generosity vs. Altruism: Philanthropy and Charity in the United States and United Kingdom, 12(4) Voluntas: Int'I J. Voluntary &Nonprofit Organizations 9.9(2001).
  2. P.S. Atiyah. Tort Law and the Alternatives: Some Anglo-American Comparisons. 1987 Duke LJ. 1002, 1018 (1987).
  3. O·Christopher Tomlins, To Improve the State and Condition of Man: The Power to Police and the History of American Governance, 53 Buff. L. Rev. 1215. 1237 (2005).
  4. Frank Belloni & Jacqueline Hodgson. Criminal Injustice: An Evaluation of the Criminal Justice Process in Britain 23 (2000).
  5. Harvard Law Review Association. VI. Media Liability for Reporting Suspects' Identities: A Comparative Analysis. 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1043 (2007)
  6. Stephen A. Metz, Justice Through the Eye of a Camera: Cameras in the Courtrooms in the United States, Canada, England, and Scotland, 14 Dick. J. Inn L. 673. 684 (1996).
  7. Supra 2
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Conclusion

The purpose of the research is to have a comprehensive idea of the mechanisms undertaken to combat the menace of sexual offenders as well as sufficient measures to tackle the systematic pattern of re-offence. The systems that have been incorporated and implemented for over a year seems to have significant effect on the crime rate but two contrast mechanisms have been working around with the same issue in both the countries. The study is to understand and evaluate whether either of the countries are more well-equipped to tackle this crime or both the working systems are ideally suitable for the political and legislative structure of each countries. The ultimate objective is to figure out an efficient system and legislation that can tackle all the issues that arise with the crime and in handling the crime and the best suited model shall gain predominance an might be able to construct a better mechanism for other countries to get inspired and incorporate the same.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Timothy Fortney, Jill Levenson, Yolanda Brannon & Juanita N. Baker. Myths and Facts about Sexual Offenders: Implications for Treatment and Public Policy (2007),

  1. Ibid
  2. Thomas, supra note 63, at 218; Meghan J. Dugan, Megan's Law or Sarah's Law? A Comparative Analysis of Public Notification Statutes in the United States and England, 23 Loy. L.A. Int'l & Camp. L. Rev. 617, 618 (2001)
  3. Supra 3

Lissa Griffin & Kate Blacker, Megan's Law and Sarah's Law: A Comparative Study of Sex Offender Community Notification Schemes in the United States and the United Kingdom, 46 Crim. L. Bull. 987 (2010), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/750/.

Lieb, Roxanne & Kemshall, Hazel & Thomas, Terry. (2011). Post-release controls for sex offenders in the U.S. and UK. International journal of law and psychiatry. 34. 226-32. 10.1016/j.ijlp.2011.04.006.

Prescott, J. & Rockoff, J. (2008). Do sex offender registration and notification laws affect criminal behavior? National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 13803. 30 Protection from Harassment Act 1997, c 40

Gannon, Theresa & Ó Ciardha, Caoilte. (2012). Psychological Theories Related to Sexual Violence and Abuse.

School of Education, University of Glasgow, The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, “ Theories and causes of crime”, < http://www.sccjr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/SCCJR-Causes-of-Crime.pdf> accessed on 22nd January, 2021

Finkelhor, David. Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research. New York: Free Press, 1984.

Hall, G. C. N., Hirschman, R., & Oliver, L. L. (1995). Sexual arousal and arousability to pedophilic stimuli in a community sample of normal men. Behavior Therapy, 26(4), 681–694. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80039-5

Malamuth, Neil & Heavey, Christopher & Linz, Daniel. (1996). The Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. 23. 13-37. 10.1300/J076v23n03_03.

Ward, T., & Beech, A. (2006). An integrated theory of sexual offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(1), 44–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2005.05.002

Karen Wright. Generosity vs. Altruism: Philanthropy and Charity in the United States and United Kingdom, 12(4) Voluntas: Int'I J. Voluntary &Nonprofit Organizations 9.9(2001).

P.S. Atiyah. Tort Law and the Alternatives: Some Anglo-American Comparisons. 1987 Duke LJ. 1002, 1018 (1987).

O·Christopher Tomlins, To Improve the State and Condition of Man: The Power to Police and the History of American Governance, 53 Buff. L. Rev. 1215. 1237 (2005).

Frank Belloni & Jacqueline Hodgson. Criminal Injustice: An Evaluation of the Criminal Justice Process in Britain 23 (2000).

Harvard Law Review Association. VI. Media Liability for Reporting Suspects' Identities: A Comparative Analysis. 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1043 (2007)

Stephen A. Metz, Justice Through the Eye of a Camera: Cameras in the Courtrooms in the United States, Canada, England, and Scotland, 14 Dick. J. Inn L. 673. 684 (1996).

Thomas, supra note 63, at 218; Meghan J. Dugan, Megan's Law or Sarah's Law? A Comparative Analysis of Public Notification Statutes in the United States and England, 23 Loy. L.A. Int'l & Camp. L. Rev. 617, 618 (2001)


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