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Impact Assessment of Sex Offender Notification on Wisconsin Communities, 1998 (ICPSR 3015)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

In response to widespread public concern about convicted sex offenders being returned from prison, federal and state laws have been passed authorizing or requiring the notification of local communities where sex offenders would be living. The dilemma associated with community notification is balancing the public's right to be informed with the need to successfully reintegrate offenders within the community. Wisconsin was one of the 50 state jurisdictions that enacted a sex offender community notification statute. This project was an in-depth study of that state's experience from the vantage point of several groups affected by the community notification process. This data collection contains three surveys that were conducted from January 1998 through mid-September 1998: (1) a survey of 704 neighborhood residents at 22 community notification meetings throughout the state (Part 1), (2) a statewide survey of 312 police and sheriff agencies (Part 2), and (3) a statewide survey of 128 probation and parole agents and their supervisors from units with sex offender caseloads (Part 3). Variables in Part 1 include how respondents found out about the date and place of the community notification meeting, respondents' opinions of the purpose of the meeting, how clearly the purpose of meeting was stated, how the meeting went, outcomes, rating of information presented, if materials were handed out, if the materials were helpful, and respondents' level of concern after the meeting. Enforcement agency data (Part 2) include variables such as type of agency, type of jurisdiction, population size, if the agency designated a special staff member to coordinate the sex offender registration and notification functions, if the agency had policies regarding registration of sex offenders and community notification about sex offenders, if the agency attended statewide training, who participated in the Core Notification Team, what kind of information was used to determine a sex offender's risk to the community, which agencies registered to receive notice, and if the agency planned to update or expand their notification list. Additional variables cover the number of requests for information from Neighborhood Watch Programs, what identifying information about the offender the agency released, types of communication the agency received from the public after a notification had been issued, topics discussed in the public communication to the agency, benefits of the community notification law, difficulties in carrying out the requirements of the law, and methods developed to handle the problems. Probation and parole survey (Part 3) variables focused on characteristics of the respondent's supervising area, the number of agents assigned to the respondents' unit, the number of agents designated as Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program (SO-ISP) agents or SO-ISP back-up agents, the number of child or adult sex offenders under probation or parole, if the respondent participated in any meetings regarding the provisions of the notification law and its implementation, if the supervisor received specialized training, and areas covered in the training. Other variables include whether the notification level was decided by the Core Notification Team, difficulties the respondent had with Special Bulletin Notification (SBN) offenders assigned to his/her caseload, if the respondent's field unit utilized SO-ISP or "high risk" agent teams to manage sex offenders, which individuals worked with the respondent's team, the type of caseload the respondent supervised, the number of sex offenders on the respondent's caseload, if the respondent used a special risk assessment or classification instrument for sex offenders, other information used to determine the supervision level for a sex offender, if child sex offenders were managed differently than other sex offenders, how often a polygraph was used on sex offenders, who paid for the polygraph, who chose the treatment provider, the number of supervision contacts with high-risk, SBN, or medium-risk sex offenders per week, victim policies and procedures used, rules or policies regarding revocation, and prerevocation sanctions used.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Community Notification Meeting Data - Download All Files (2.5 MB)
DS2:  Law Enforcement Agency Data - Download All Files (2.8 MB)
DS3:  Probation and Parole Agents Data - Download All Files (2.5 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Zevitz, Richard, and Mary Ann Farkas. IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION ON WISCONSIN COMMUNITIES, 1998. ICPSR version. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University [producer], 2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2001. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03015.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (98-IJ-CX-0015)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   communities, public interest, public opinion, sex offender profiles, sex offender registration, sex offenders

Geographic Coverage:   United States, Wisconsin

Time Period:  

  • 1998

Unit of Observation:   Parts 1 and 3: Individuals. Part 2: Agencies.

Universe:   Neighborhood residents, police and sheriff agencies, and probation and parole agents plus their supervisors in the state of Wisconsin.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instruments are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   In response to widespread public concern about convicted sex offenders being returned from prison, federal and state laws have been passed authorizing or requiring the notification of local communities where sex offenders would be living. The dilemma associated with community notification is balancing the public's right to be informed with the need to successfully reintegrate offenders within the community. Wisconsin was one of the 50 state jurisdictions that enacted a sex offender community notification statute. This project was an in-depth study of that state's experience from the vantage point of several groups affected by the community notification process.

Study Design:   This data collection contains three surveys that were conducted from January 1998 through mid-September 1998: (1) a survey of 704 neighborhood residents at 22 community notification meetings throughout the state (Part 1), (2) a statewide survey of 312 police and sheriff agencies (Part 2), and (3) a statewide survey of 128 probation and parole agents and their supervisors from units with sex offender caseloads (Part 3). Most of the community notification meetings for Part 1 data were held in the early evening in school auditoriums, and attendance (not including official presenters) ranged from a half-dozen persons at one meeting to over a hundred at another. Attendees were handed questionnaires, which they completed and returned upon leaving the meetings. For Part 2, information was collected from local and county law enforcement agencies on their notification responsibilities. Each agency in the sample was mailed a questionnaire accompanied by a cover letter and a printed prepaid return envelope. The cover letter explained the purpose of the study and provided instructions for filling out the questionnaire. If necessary, a reminder letter was sent out, followed by a second survey mailing. After these contacts were made, the nonrespondents were telephoned twice, if necessary, to request that they complete and return the survey. The probation and parole data (Part 3) were collected at a statewide probation and parole officer conference on sex offender supervision and management. Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program (SO-ISP) agents, SO-ISP backup agents, their unit supervisors, and nonspecialist or "comprehensive" agents with substantial numbers of sex offenders on their caseloads were targeted. A short presentation on the purpose of the study was provided, followed by instructions for completing and returning the survey. The survey was then distributed to each agent in attendance at the conference. Because some agents in the departments did not attend the conference, each probation/parole field office was mailed additional surveys and directions to distribute them only to those agents.

Sample:   Parts 1 and 3: None. Part 2: Stratified sampling.

Data Source:

Parts 1 and 3: self-enumerated questionnaires, Part 2: self-enumerated mailback questionnaires

Description of Variables:   Variables in Part 1 include how respondents found out about the date and place of the community notification meeting, respondents' opinions of the purpose of the meeting, how clearly the purpose of meeting was stated, how the meeting went, outcomes, rating of information presented, if materials were handed out, if the materials were helpful, and respondents' level of concern after the meeting. Enforcement agency data (Part 2) include variables such as type of agency, type of jurisdiction, population size, if the agency designated a special staff member to coordinate the sex offender registration and notification functions, if the agency had policies regarding registration of sex offenders and community notification about sex offenders, if the agency attended statewide training, who participated in the Core Notification Team, what kind of information was used to determine a sex offender's risk to the community, which agencies registered to receive notice, and if the agency planned to update or expand their notification list. Additional variables cover the number of requests for information from Neighborhood Watch Programs, what identifying information about the offender the agency released, types of communication the agency received from the public after a notification had been issued, topics discussed in the public communication to the agency, benefits of the community notification law, difficulties in carrying out the requirements of the law, and methods developed to handle the problems. Probation and parole survey (Part 3) variables focused on characteristics of the respondent's supervising area, the number of agents assigned to the respondents' unit, the number of agents designated as Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program (SO-ISP) agents or SO-ISP back-up agents, the number of child or adult sex offenders under probation or parole, if the respondent participated in any meetings regarding the provisions of the notification Law and its implementation, if the supervisor received specialized training, and areas covered in the training. Other variables include whether the notification level was decided by the Core Notification Team, difficulties the respondent had with Special Bulletin Notification (SBN) offenders assigned to his/her caseload, if the respondent's field unit utilized SO-ISP or "high risk" agent teams to manage sex offenders, which individuals worked with the respondent's team, the type of caseload the respondent supervised, the number of sex offenders on the respondent's caseload, if the respondent used a special risk assessment or classification instrument for sex offenders, other information used to determine the supervision level for a sex offender, if child sex offenders were managed differently than other sex offenders, how often a polygraph was used on sex offenders, who paid for the polygraph, who chose the treatment provider, the number of supervision contacts with high-risk, SBN, or medium-risk sex offenders per week, victim policies and procedures used, rules or policies regarding revocation, and prerevocation sanctions used.

Response Rates:   Part 1: Nearly 800 attendees of the community notification were handed questionnaires, and 704 completed and returned these instruments. Part 2: A total of 142 police departments (59 percent) and 46 sheriff departments (64 percent) returned the questionnaires, for a total response rate of 60 percent. Of the responding agencies, 34 percent served populations under 10,000, and only 2 percent served populations over 150,000. Over half (57 percent) of the responding sheriffs served counties of 39,000 or more. Part 3: Of the 128 probation/ parole agents and supervisors who received survey instruments, 77 (60 percent) returned them.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG3015.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CQ3015.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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