The goal of this study was to inform policy and practice
recommendations for federal and state policymakers, state and tribal public safety agencies charged with the
design and oversight of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) systems, and county/local law enforcement agencies on the front lines of registering and monitoring sex offenders within communities.
The two-year, mixed-method study featured
collection and analysis of interview data from over two-dozen jurisdictions, and administration of a nationwide
survey of law enforcement professionals. In Phase 1 (LE Qualitative Data.sav), interview participants, interview participants were drawn from a convenience sample of five U.S. States and from two tribal jurisdictions. Participants were recruited through multiple channels, with the majority of contacts facilitated by intermediary organizations including state public safety agencies and police chief associations. In Phase 2 (LE Quantitative Data-ICPSR.sav), participants were invited to complete the survey via targeted email outreach, using a nationwide commercial list of 8,840 police chiefs and command staff and a list of 2,921 county sheriffs obtained from the National Sheriffs Association.
The Phase 1 (LE Qualitative Data.sav) interview sample was drawn from five states (California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) and two tribal jurisdictions. Participants were recruited mainly through intermediary organizations such as state public safety agencies and police chief associations. Representatives from 26 state, county, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies were interviewed, for a total sample of 105 participants. Of these, 101 participants consented to having their interviews recorded and transcribed.
The Phase 2 (LE Quantitative Data-ICPSR.sav) survey sample was recruited via targeted email outreach using a commercial list of police chiefs and command staff procured through Campbell Rinker (a marketing research and survey firm), and a list of sheriffs obtained from the National Sheriffs Association. Outreach emails were sent directly to agency heads, and included instructions indicating that the survey was intended for completion by agency leadership, personnel involved in sex offender registration and management, and specialized personnel involved in sex crime investigation. The survey was distributed to 9,472 email addresses, excluding "bounce backs" and invalid addresses, and 1,485 respondents consented to participate. Due to excessive missing data, 83 respondents were removed to create the final analysis file.
Both data files: law enforcement professionals in the United States in 2014 and 2015
LE Qualitative Data.sav: Individual,
LE Quantitative Data-ICPSR.sav: Individual
The data file LE Qualitative Data.sav (n=101; 55 variables) contains responses to open-ended questions in the following areas:
- General views on SORN purposes and functions, and on the overall effectiveness of SORN systems in fulfilling those functions
- Views and respondent experiences related to the uses, utility, and reliability of SORN for purposes of crime prevention, criminal investigation, first responders, management, and evaluation of offender risk, as well as the challenges and/or barriers to SORN effectiveness
- Views and respondent experiences related to management of registry non-compliance
- Views related to the efficiency of SORN systems, as well as sufficiency of resources for registry management and enforcement activities
- Awareness and perspectives related to the comparison of SORN practices across jurisdictions
- Perspectives and recommendations concerning priorities for reform and improvement of SORN systems and policies.
The data file LE Quantitative Data-ICPSR.sav (n=1402, 201 variables), contains the following:
- Respondent and agency characteristics variables including the state they are from, the type of agency they work for, the size of their agency, the functions they perform at their agency and have performed over their career in law enforcement, their current position, the number of years they have worked in law enforcement, the percentage of their time spent on sex offender management duties, and the frequency with which respondents access their state's sex offender registry.
- Agency-level variables related to sex offender management functions performed at agencies (updating registry information, monitoring and enforcing sex offender registry compliance, notifying and educating the public about sex offenders in the community, locating missing or absconding offenders, conducting sexual assault and sexual abuse criminal investigations, and child pornography and/or internet crimes against children
investigation); the type of staff who typically handles renewing or updating registration information; how often agencies use specific strategies (e.g. postal mailings, social media) to inform the public about sex offenders in their jurisdiction; whether residence restrictions or anti-loitering laws apply in their jurisdiction; and (where applicable) the legal mechanisms through which residence restrictions are established.
- Variables related to respondent beliefs surrounding the primary purposes of sex offender registration is, and how effective they believe their state's registration system is in fulfilling specific purposes.
- Variables related to respondent level of concern over various issues and challenges related to sex offender registration and notification systems, including those surrounding public uses of the registry, uses of registry information for law enforcement purposes (offender monitoring and sex crime investigation), and collateral effects of registration on offenders' social integration.
- Variables related to systems for assigning offender risk levels and respondent perceptions of the adequacy of these systems.
- Variables related to policies and practices related to the management of registry noncompliance, as well as respondent beliefs about the factors associated with noncompliance.
- Variables related to the extent and nature of inter-agency coordination between respondent agencies and other entities (e.g. probation and parole, federal agencies including the U.S. Marshal Service, other local or regional law enforcement agencies).
- Variables related to respondent beliefs surrounding the relative priority assigned to sex offender registration and notification by policymakers, as well as respondent beliefs surrounding priorities for reform and improvement of registry systems.
LE Qualitative Data.sav: not applicable
LE Quantitative Data-ICPSR.sav: excluding "bounce backs" and invalid addresses, the survey was distributed to 9,472 email addresses. 1,485 respondents consented to participate and proceeded to the survey, for an overall response rate of 15.7 percent