The purpose of the study was to examine the impact of community notification and registration laws (Megan's Law) in New Jersey. The study examined Megan's Law for its specific deterrence effect on re-offending, including the level of general and sexual offense recidivism, the nature of sexual re-offenses, and time to first re-arrest for sexual and non-sexual re-offenses (i.e., community tenure).
The research team developed a Megan's Law study data collection tool to extract information from paper-based inmate folders/records on the 550 sexual offenders in the study. For each of these cases, extensive demographic, clinical, institutional and service use, criminal history, and crime offense characteristics information was collected. This provides an opportunity to contrast outcomes of offenders arrested and released prior to the passing of Megan's Law with offenders arrested and released after the legislation passed in 1994. The outcome measure of recidivism was collected through June 15, 2007. The remaining measures were adjusted to assure that all offenders had an equal time at risk, specifically 2,358 days or approximately six and a half years.
The study used a stratified random sample of sex offenders released from New Jersey Department of Corrections facilities (either the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center [ADTC] or one of the general population facilities) before and after implementation of Megan's Law. Fifty sex offenders per year (25 from the ADTC and 25 from the general population) were randomly selected for the period covering 1990 through 2000, 11 years in total. This yielded a sample of 550 cases.
Longitudinal: Cohort / Event-based
All New Jersey sex offenders released from incarceration between the years 1990 and 2000.
The research team developed a Megan's Law study data collection tool to extract information from paper-based inmate folders/records on the 550 sexual offenders in the study.
administrative records data
The study contains 122 variables including outcome variables as well as offender characteristics/demographics, intervention/treatment variables, index offense information, prior sexual and non-sexual offense variables, and re-offenses and incarcerations variables. Outcome variables include recidivism, community tenure, and harm. Community tenure includes time until first re-arrest. Harm includes number of sex offenses, violence of sex offenses and number of child victims.