Examination of South Carolina's Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) Policy in Reducing Sexual Violence, 1990-2005 (ICPSR 31502)

Principal Investigator(s): Letourneau, Elizabeth J., Medical University of South Carolina; Levenson, Jill, Lynn University; Armstrong, Kevin, Medical University of South Carolina; Bandyopadhyay, Dipankar, Medical University of South Carolina; Sinha, Debajyoti, Florida State University

Summary:

This study examined the effects of comprehensive registration and community notification policies on rates of sexual violence in South Carolina. Specifically, it proposed to (1) evaluate whether broad sex offender registration and notification policies have reduced recidivism or deterred new sexual offenses, (2) examine whether unintended effects of broad registration and notification policies occurred, and (3) focus on the effects of registration and notification as it pertained to offenses committed by adults. The study examined whether the introduction of sex offender registration and notification laws in South Carolina were associated with reductions in sexual crimes and, if so, whether this reduction could be attributed to an actual reduction in sexual violence and/or recidivism (i.e., an intended effect) or to changes in criminal judicial processing of individuals for registry crimes (i.e., an unintended effect).

Specific study aims included examining whether: (1) South Carolina registration and notification policies had the intended effect of preventing first time sexual offending; (2) South Carolina registration and notification policies had the intended effect of reducing sexual recidivism for known sex offenders; and (3) South Carolina registration and notification policies had the unintended effect of reducing the probability that individuals who committed sexual crimes would be prosecuted or convicted for such crimes. In addition to these primary aims, the researchers also investigated (4) registration violations (e.g., failure to register) were associated with sexual or general recidivism.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Sex Offender Registry - Download All Files (46.385 MB)
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DS2:  Failure to Register Study - Failure to Register - Download All Files (9.746 MB)
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DS3:  Failure to Register Study - General Recidivism - Download All Files (9.412 MB)
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DS4:  Failure to Register Study - Sexual Recidivism - Download All Files (9.455 MB)
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DS5:  Recidivism Study - Competing Risk Arrest - Download All Files (12.867 MB)
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DS6:  Recidivism Study - Competing Risk Conviction - Download All Files (12.626 MB)
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DS7:  Recidivism Study - Survival Nonperson Arrest - Download All Files (12.431 MB)
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DS8:  Recidivism Study - Survival Nonperson Conviction - Download All Files (12.512 MB)
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DS9:  Recidivism Study - Survival Nonsexual Person Arrest - Download All Files (12.676 MB)
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DS10:  Recidivism Study - Survival Nonsexual Person Conviction - Download All Files (12.722 MB)
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DS11:  Recidivism Study - Survival Sexual Person Arrest - Download All Files (12.776 MB)
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DS12:  Recidivism Study - Survival Sexual Person Conviction - Download All Files (12.806 MB)
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DS13:  Juvenile Justice Records
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DS14:  Adult Deterrence - Download All Files (6.558 MB)
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Study Description

Citation

Letourneau, Elizabeth J., Jill Levenson, Kevin Armstrong, Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, and Debajyoti Sinha. Examination of South Carolina's Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) Policy in Reducing Sexual Violence, 1990-2005. ICPSR31502-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-07-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR31502.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR31502.v1

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 (2006-WG-BX-0002)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    assault, crime, crime prevention, crime rates, crime reduction, criminal histories, deterrence, judicial decisions, recidivism, sex offender registration, sex offenders

Smallest Geographic Unit:    State

Geographic Coverage:    South Carolina, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1990--2005

Date of Collection:   

  • 1990--2005

Unit of Observation:    Individual

Universe:   

Sex Offender Registry Data: registrants on the South Carolina sex offenders' registry between January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2005.

Adult Criminal History Data: adults with criminal history records in South Carolina between January 1, 1990 to December 31, 2005.

Juvenile Justice Data: juveniles with cases forwarded to the prosecutors in South Carolina between January 1, 1990 to December 31, 2005 and final disposition outcomes from January 1, 1990 through December 31, 2004.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

Users should note that the Adult Criminal History Data was not archived at ICPSR and is not available as a part of this data collection.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   

The program of research sought to extend research on the effects of registration and notification to an offense-based sex offender registration and notification (SORN) policy enacted by South Carolina. South Carolina was selected to model the effects of registration and notification on sex crime deterrence, sexual recidivism risk, and to examine unintended effects on judicial decision making for two reasons.

First, South Carolina was one of the first states to respond to federal registration requirements, enacting an original registration policy in 1995 and expanding notification to require online notification in 1999. Thus, longer follow-up was achievable using South Carolina criminal justice databases than in states with more recent policies.

Second, South Carolina's registration policies were of interest because they exceeded, in nearly every respect, the original federal registration and community notification requirements established by the Jacob Wetterling, Megan Kanka, and Pam Lychner Acts in the 1990's and continue to exceed many of the expanded requirements more recently established by the Adam Walsh Act.

The specific aims of the program of research was:

  1. Prevention (General Deterrence) of Sexual Violence. This included an examination of whether South Carolina's SORN policy was associated with a general deterrent effect for adults. Specifically, it addressed the question of whether registration and notification deterred first time sex crimes.
  2. Specific Deterrence of Sexual Recidivism. This included an examination of whether South Carolina's SORN policy associated with specific deterrent effect on sexual and nonsexual violent recidivism rates for adults. Specifically, it addressed the question of whether registration and notification reduced sexual and nonsexual recidivism rates.
  3. Unintended Effects on Judicial Decision Making for Sex Crime Cases. This included an examination of whether South Carolina's SORN policy was associated with unintended effects on judicial decision making specific to adult sex crime cases. Specifically, it addressed the question of whether registration and notification influenced the likelihood that a sex crime charge would result in a formal judicial processing (versus being dismissed) and whether a sex crime charge would result in a guilty finding (vs. acquittal).
  4. Association Between Registration Violations and Sexual Recidivism. This included an examination of whether failure to register is associated with increased risk for sexual recidivism.

Study Design:   

Sex Offender Registry Records

South Carolina sex offender registry data were obtained from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in collaboration with the South Carolina Office of Justice Programs Statistical Analysis Center. The SLED data files included all offenders registered from the date of initial registration policy implementation (January 1st, 1995) through December 31st, 2005.

Adult Criminal History Records

Computerized criminal history records between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2004 were obtained from SLED, in collaboration with South Carolina State Budget and Control Board, Office of Research and Statistics (ORS) for analysis.

Juvenile Justice Records

Juvenile justice data were obtained from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice in collaboration with ORS. These data were used primarily to provide information about prior arrest histories.

South Carolina Population Records

South Carolina population estimates were obtained from South Carolina Community Assessment Network (SCAN) population data tables, available at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control website.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts

Data Source:

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Description of Variables:   

Sex Offender Registry Data

The Sex Offender Registry Data is comprised of the following dataset:

  • Sex offender registry (Dataset 1; 9,236 records, 90 variables)

Variables include, literal descriptions of sex offense(s) requiring registration, initial date of registration, victim's age, victim's sex, statute, conviction date, and offenders' age at conviction.

Failure to Register Study Data

The Failure to Register Data is comprised of the following three datasets:

  • Failure to register study - Failure to register (Dataset 2; 3,190 records, 28 variables)
  • Failure to register study - General recidivism (Dataset 3; 3,103 records, 29 variables)
  • Failure to register study - Sexual recidivism (Dataset 4; 3,186 records, 29 variables)

Variables include, dates and duration of follow up intervals, offenders' age at registration, offenders' race, initial date of registration, number of priors, dates of general or sexual recidivism, and registration violations.

Recidivism Study Data

The Recidivism Study Data is comprised of the following eight datasets:

  • Recidivism study - Competing risk arrest (Dataset 5; 6,342 records, 20 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Competing risk conviction (Dataset 6; 6,411 records, 20 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival nonperson arrest (Dataset 7; 6,406 records, 19 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival nonperson conviction (Dataset 8; 6,471 records, 19 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival nonsexual person arrest (Dataset 9; 6,599 records, 19 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival nonsexual person conviction (Dataset 10; 6,638 records, 19 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival sexual person arrest (Dataset 11; 6,688 records, 19 variables)
  • Recidivism study - Survival sexual person conviction (Dataset 12; 6,709 records, 19 variables)

Variables include, dates and duration of follow up intervals, offenders' date of birth, offenders' race, initial date of registration, number of priors, indicator of recidivism and type of recidivism.

Juvenile Justice Data

The Juvenile Justice Data is comprised of one dataset:

  • Juvenile justice data (Dataset 13; 835,249 records, 34 variables)

Variables include, charge descriptions and date of charge, description of disposition offense and date of disposition for all charges, start and end dates of incarceration periods.

Adult Deterrence Data

The Adult Deterrence Data is comprised of the following dataset:

  • Adult deterrence (Dataset 14; 192 records, 11 variables)

Variables include, population estimates, counts of sex, assault, and robbery offenses, rate per 10,000 of sex, assault, and robbery offenses.

Response Rates:    Not Applicable

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:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:   2015-07-30

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