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Federal Sentencing Reporter

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This paper first discusses the scope of sex offender registration and notification under federal and state laws, and contrasts U.S. laws with those in other countries. Part III turns to the prevailing rationales for these laws and tests their empirical validity. It highlights the negative effect of registries and notification on criminal investigations, and the cost they impose on public coffers, public safety, and those labeled sex offenders. Part IV discusses a set of proposals to turn registries, which may serve a limited legitimate function, into more effective law enforcement tools while restricting public notification. This section outlines ex ante limitations on such laws, and then turns to mechanisms that would allow individual offenders to petition for their termination. This discussion provides the context for an analysis of the relief provisions set out in the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code (MPC): Sentencing, Article 7. The article concludes that to enhance public safety and reintegrate sex offenders, the United States would be better served by moving away from public notification, limiting registries, and investing more heavily in prevention and the treatment of convicted sex offenders.



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