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Chapter 7 describes what we know about the effects of SORN laws on criminal behavior. A coherent story emerges from this review: there is virtually no evidence that SORN laws reduce recidivism or otherwise increase public safety. The chapter first delineates the various ways registration and notification alter the legal environment not only for registrants but also for nonregistrants, the public, and law enforcement. There are many channels through which SORN laws might impact the frequency of sex offenses, including some that would produce an increase in overall offending. The chapter assesses these possibilities in light of a large body of relevant empirical research, focusing on potential changes in registrant recidivism, nonregistrant criminal behavior, the geography of victimization, and the distribution of types of sex offenses and victims. Scholars have plumbed many different data sources using a range of methodologies, yet nearly every study finds no evidence that SORN laws – in particular, community notification laws – reduce sexual recidivism. In fact, notification laws may increase recidivism risk. The final section discusses registrant beliefs about the effects of SORN laws. In sum, the chapter comprehensively engages with the pressing question of whether SORN laws protect the public and concludes that they do not.
Sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws were motivated by several basic empirical assumptions: (1) that individuals convicted of sex offenses recidivate at far higher rates than other subpopulations convicted of crimes (they do not) and (2) that to effectively combat sexual offending, especially concerning children, communities need identifying and locational information regarding individuals convicted of sex offenses so that they can take protective precautions (when in reality most sexual offending is committed by persons known to victims and first-time offenders, who by definition are not registrants).
Despite being in existence for over a quarter century, costing multiple millions of dollars and affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals, sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws have yet to be subject to a book-length treatment of their empirical dimensions - their premises, coverage, and impact on public safety. This volume, edited by Wayne Logan and J.J. Prescott, assembles the leading researchers in the field to provide an in-depth look at what have come to be known as 'Megan's Laws', offering a social science-based analysis of one of the most important, and controversial, criminal justice system initiatives undertaken in modern times.
In this chapter, we explore the ability of courts to enhance the role of substantive law in case outcomes by reducing party litigation costs. When it becomes less costly for parties to engage actively in dispute resolution, the shadow of substantive law should, in theory, become more pronounced and case outcomes should change (and hopefully become more accurate/efficient on average). To empirically investigate this hypothesis, we examine the consequences of a large state court’s implementation of court-assisted online dispute resolution (ODR) tools for its small claims docket. A central goal of this technology is to reduce litigation costs of all sorts so that parties are able to communicate easily and negotiate settlements quickly in the shadow of what is —or could be—efficient substantive law, thereby avoiding inefficient status quo outcomes, like default judgments. ODR tools enhance court efficiency and litigant satisfaction by giving parties on‐demand, inexpensive access to a private and secure platform to negotiate an agreement that fully resolves their dispute. We find that, by reducing costs, eliminating procedural inefficiencies, and placing decision-making power in the hands of the parties, platform technology reduces the likelihood of default and likely improves the substantive outcome of disputes.
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