Penology: Sex Offenders

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  • Sex Offenders in the Community
    • Legal Context
      • Sex Offenders Act (2003)
      • includes the offences of: ****, sexual assault, assault by penetration etc.
      • s.74: CONSENT: 'a person consents if s/he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice
      • over 80, 000 supervised sex offenders in 2017/18
    • Sarah's Law
      • Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme
      • started in 2008: available in all 43 forces
      • in brief: allows anyone to ask the police if a person with contact with their child has a sex offences records
      • in the interest of protecting children
      • presumption to disclose will only happen in cases where a person has definite convictions
      • police aim to complete enquiries in 45 days
    • How does it protect children?
      • 1. police will only disclose information if it is lawful and protects a child
      • 2. doesn't advocate style of Megan's Law which could encourage offenders to go missing, putting the child at further risk
      • 3. works together with existing procedures to raise child protection concerns (MAPPA, children's services, Working Together to Safeguard Children)
      • 4. MAPPA only allowed to disclose information if it protects a child from serious harm: child at the heart of everything
      • 5. disclosures can only be made to a parent/carer/ guardian who is in a dominant position to use information to safeguard a child
    • Evaluation: Sarah's Law as 'bad'
      • 1. encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own children
      • 2. no suspicion is needed to request information: against the liberties of the offender/not offender focussed?
      • 3. POLICE: may no have had experience of managing sexual offender cases/child enquiries
        • potential for officers not to take cases seriously, look at specific signs: leads to inconsistency/non-sensitive
      • 4. applicants felt ill-equipped with information of offender - ambiguous and anxious feelings
        • KEMSHALL ET AL, 2012: 159 responses in the study of disclosure schemes
      • broad level: resonates with victim studies: victims want a voice to be heard, but so not necessarily want to take more active responsibility: fills the need/gap
        • WEMMER AND CYR, 2006
    • Home Office Evaluation: 2007:
      • 1. police and probation services believed it offered extensive route for public to make enquiries
      • 2. failure to target vulnerable families
        • these types of people may not be able to access the scheme by contacting the police
        • need to be more extensive: utilising teachings to reach to this group of people
      • 3. scheme needs to be more public
        • pilots showed a need for more marketing and appropriate police briefings
      • OVERALL: serves to disappoint, both at targeting 'risk' populations and engaging the public
    • Problems with knowing disclosure/register information
      • 1. compliance rate may fall if people know info: 97% in UK and 50% in USA
      • 2. drive in underground peados; FITCH, 2006; MACGUIRE AND KEMSHALL, 2004
      • 3. rise in vigilante groups: most offenders dear being sentenced in the community due to vigilantism; WOOD AND KEMSHALL, 2007
      • 4. may encourage networking with other sex offenders
      • 5. relatively meaningless, besides Clare's Law partner info sharing
      • 6. offenders still placed on list/register, despite undergoing treatment/rehab scheme - damaging for future reputation?
      • 7. places responsibility of community to protect themselves: shift from police to public
    • Megan's Law
      • Megan Kanka, aged 7
      • ****d and murdered by a known child molester
      • 1996: new legislation enabling public to access info on sex offenders in the community
      • prohibited to use information to harass or commit any crime against an offender
      • one of the most rapid transformation in US federal and state law; PAWSON, 2002
      • LEVENSON AND OTTER, 2005:
        • study of 183 male sex offender in Florida and how Megan's Law impacted them
        • provided motivation to prevent reoffending
        • increased honesty with family and friends
        • 1/3 participants experienced loss of job/hoome
        • vast majority experienced stress, isolation, fear, shame and loss of relationships
        • more than 1/2 respondents said information which was posed about them online was FALSE
      • Evaluation
        • 1. one of the most potent weapons of anti-**** measures: austere method of monitoring and controlling offenders; CORRIGAN, 2006
        • 2. consistent with reproaches of the repressive law
        • 1. threat/fear of reprisal may promote an offender to reoffend and stay out of the community
        • 2. the law compromises the sex offender ability to reintegrate safely; FREEMAN-LONGO, 2001
        • 3. sex offender failed to reduce forcible ****; ACKERMAN ET AL, 2012
        • 4. law can isolate an offender: concerns of collateral damage, vigilantism, bracketing all offenders to 1 category, dismissal consequences for juvenile offender; ACKERMAN ET AL, 2013
        • 5. rehabilitative approach is limited: few applications and adoptions of COSA compared to UK and Canada
        • 6. FEMINIST critique: stresses sexual offences are committed by a handful of strangers: ignores wider scope of the problem; CORRIGAN, 2006
        • 7. US style of community notification has not found a reduction in sexual offences; FITCH, 2006

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