Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Committee Member

Gregg Barak, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Paul Leighton, PhD

Committee Member

Donna Selman-Killingbeck, PhD


Legislation regarding sex offenses is often passed swiftly with little to no evaluation of the effectiveness of such policies on preventing recidivism and protecting the public. Further, little criticism is raised despite overwhelming evidence that sex offender registration and community notification is ineffective and has many negative consequences. The societal reaction is created through moral panics resulting in views that are not always reflective of the nature of the problem. In effect, the policies put into place in the name of declaring war on the deviant behavior reflect these views and do not target the specific problem.

While the first two panics involved the identification of sexual offenses, offenders, and the causes of such deviance, the failure of these two time periods to eradicate the problem of sexual offending has caused an evolution in the third sex crime panic from focusing on the nature of sexual offending to a drive to control and contain the population of sexual offenders. Because U.S. society still has little understanding of the nature and cause of sexual offending, laws continue to be ineffective in the third panic and exacerbate the original problem.

Included in

Criminology Commons