Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policy Increases Juvenile Plea Bargains

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Kevin S. Armstrong, Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Debajyoti Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that South Carolina's sex offender registration and notification policy influenced juvenile sex offense case plea bargains. Two types of plea bargains were examined: initial sex offense charges amended to nonsex offense charges and amended to lower severity charges. Comparison analyses were conducted with juvenile assault and robbery offense cases. Archival data on cases involving 19,215 male youth charged with sex, assault, and/or robbery offenses between 1990 and 2004 informed analyses. Of these youth, 2,991 were charged with one or more sex offense, 16,091 were charged with one or more assault offense, and 2,036 were charged with at one or more robbery offense. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to model changes in the probabilities of plea bargain outcomes across three time intervals: before policy implementation (1990 to 1994), after initial policy implementation (1995 to 1998), and after implementation of a revised policy that included online registration requirements (1999 to 2004). Results indicate significant increases in the probability of plea bargains for sex offense cases across subsequent time periods, supporting the hypothesis that South Carolina's initial and revised registration and notification policies were associated with significant increases the likelihood of plea bargains to different types of charges and to lower severity charges. Results were either nonsignificant or of much lower magnitude for the comparison assault and robbery analyses. Suggestions for revising South Carolina and national registration and notification policies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-207
Number of pages19
JournalSexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Megan's Law
  • adolescent sexual abusers
  • juvenile sex offender
  • notification
  • registration
  • sex offender policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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