Fast Facts About Public Policies and Laws Dealing With Sexual Offending

Fact 1: Laws are most effective when they are evidence-based.

Laws that are developed based on sound research and experiential evidence offer the best options for managing individuals who have sexually offended and keeping communities safe. Laws based on anecdotes and stereotypes are less likely to be effective and may create unintended negative consequences. Most sex offender registry laws and residence restrictions fall into the second category -- they are not based on evidence and they do little to promote public safety.

Fact 2: Mandatory sentencing and one-size-fits-all laws are easy to enact, but do little to solve problems.

It may be simpler to enact laws that treat everyone alike, but mandatory sex offender registration is not cost-effective and does little to promote public safety. Requiring registration for a mandatory number of years based solely on a crime rather than on an individualized assessment of a person’s risk and needs places many low-risk offenders on the registry, subjects them and their families to financial and social hardships, and wastes scarce law enforcement funding for needless monitoring. Communities and taxpayers are better served by investing more resources upfront in assessment to develop customize sanctions for each individual.


The following citations reflect research, publications, and presentations by current ATSA members.

Additional resources will be listed soon.

2018 ATSA Conference