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Controversial legal issues like retroactive registration -- requiring an offender who was sentenced before the legislation to follow the new rules -- and juvenile registration get the most notice.
For most states, however, the biggest hurdles are implementing technology and adjusting statutes, said Linda Baldwin, director of the SMART office.
Supporters like Baldwin tout their public safety benefits, while critics say they can have the unintended consequence of destabilizing sex offenders.
"Public notification creates barriers to successful sex offender management and treatment and supervision," said Alisa Klein, Public Policy Consultant for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and co-author of the report, "A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping Sex Offender Policy to Prevent Child Sex Abuse (PDF)." Offenders re-entering the community need strong support systems to prevent them from reoffending, she said, through family, faith communities and a steady job.
It called for jurisdictions to retroactively register some adult offenders who'd already done their time on the registry."Going on a public registry creates an immediate stigma.It can prevent employment, prevent them from living with families, get them thrown out of faith communities; it has the consequence of putting someone in an emotional state that may make them more likely to reoffend," she said.Online registries also are not a tool to reduce repeat offenses, she said."It's hard to measure whether these important public safety goals are being met and figuring out how to measure that is challenging and may take years for us to complete," Baldwin said.
To see how the law has fared in practice, one need look no farther than Ohio, the first state to adopt the law in its original, most stringent form, in 2007.