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Sex offender registries are databases that contain publicly available information about convicted sex offenders. The goal of these registries is to alert the public about the whereabouts of sex offenders, with the intention of providing protection to the community, particularly children. In general, convicted sex offenders are required to register their personal information with local law enforcement for a period of time predetermined by the registry laws. Some critics maintain that the registries have had unintended consequences that render them ineffective and that surveillance of sex offenders misconstrues the reality of sexual assault. This entry discusses the history, use, and criticism of sex offender registries in the United States.

History and Use

While laws focused on sex offenders have existed for decades, federally mandated laws requiring community ...

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