Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sex Offender Sanctions: Are There ANY Limits?

Sex Offender Post-Incarceration Sanctions: Are There ANY Limits?
-by Richard G. Wright
(PhD in Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Boston; Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College)

American society has decided that there is no greater villain than the sex
offender. Terrorists, drug dealers, murderers, kidnappers, mobsters,
gangsters, drunk drivers, and white-collar criminals do not elicit the
emotions and evoke the political response that sex offenders do. The intent
of this paper is to empirically substantiate this claim. Central to this
argument is the imposition of post-incarceration sanctions.
One way to discern society’s views about specific forms of criminal
behavior is to examine historical, and contemporary methods of
punishment. In the last fifteen years, all forms of government have pursued
unique ways to control sex offenders after their release from prison or jail.
All criminal offenders are subject to community supervision in the form of
probation or parole conditions. For some offenders, probation and parole
conditions may be quite restrictive and may include random drug tests,
unannounced home visits, searches, and strict requirements for substance
abuse and psychological counseling. Yet, as will be discussed in this
article, there are a number of post-incarceration sanctions that have been
created exclusively for and apply only to sex offenders.

The growth of sex offender post-incarceration controls have come from the federal government,
state governments,and now in an interesting trend, from local cities and towns; all of whom are trying to determine if,
when, and how sex offenders will return to their communities. Specifically,
society has imposed post-incarceration controls on sex offenders’ privacy,
places of residence, travel, employment, sexuality, and reproductive