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Sex Offenders

September 8, 2006 • Volume 16, Issue 31
Will tough, new laws do more harm than good?
By Alan Greenblatt

Introduction

Registered sex offender John Evander Couey confessed last year to kidnapping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, of Homosassa, Fla.  (Getty Images/Citrus County Sheriff's Department)
Registered sex offender John Evander Couey confessed last year to kidnapping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, of Homosassa, Fla. (Getty Images/Citrus County Sheriff's Department)

In response to horrific sex crimes against children, Congress and the states have passed hundreds of new laws in recent years to crack down on offenders. In addition to much longer sentences and more rigorous tracking of sex criminals upon release, some of the new laws place limits on where offenders can live, banning them from neighborhoods surrounding schools, parks and playgrounds. But critics warn the laws may prove counterproductive, driving sex offenders further underground. They also point out that most perpetrators are family members or other acquaintances of victims, so the new laws may shift resources away from treatment programs that could help more. Moreover, experts note sex offenders' low recidivism rates and a dramatic drop in child sexual-abuse cases. But with the media giving heavy coverage to the worst cases of abduction and abuse, it's no wonder that lawmakers are willing to approve any punishment or tracking technique that promises to prevent crimes against children.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sex Offenders
Sep. 08, 2006  Sex Offenders
May 03, 2002  Sexual Abuse and the Clergy
Mar. 01, 2002  Cyber-Predators
Jan. 12, 1996  Punishing Sex Offenders
Dec. 15, 1949  Control of Sex Offenses
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Children
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Teenagers
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