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Discrimination Needed: The Over‐Inclusive Definition of Who is a Sex Offender

Ryanne Colbert (California School of Forensic Studies Alliant International University, Los Angeles, USA)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 1 June 2011



Sex offenders and the laws concerning them represent a highly controversial and emotionally charged issue. Current efforts of legislation in the United States to manage the increasing number of sex offenders being arrested and eventually released back into communities are inadequate to manage such a large population of offenders, and the effects of registration and notification laws are more detrimental than beneficial to the communities they intend to protect. This paper discusses the notion that a significant cause of the problem relates to the overly broad standards that are used to define who is to be charged as a sex offender. The term “sex offender” needs to be reserved for those individuals who best represent the meaning of the term, and the resources available for this issue should be directed towards the effective management of those offenders instead of being spread so thin amongst so many offenders who do not pose a serious threat to society that none of them are sufficiently supervised after release from incarceration. Furthermore, laws and federal guidelines regarding sex offender legislation needs to be based on empirical research findings instead of uniformed public pressure.



Colbert, R. (2011), "Discrimination Needed: The Over‐Inclusive Definition of Who is a Sex Offender", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 43-50.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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