The purpose of this website is to share research about sex offender laws in the United States in a systematic way. The United States has had a federally mandated public sex offender registry since 1996 (although some states had sex offender registries before this). Read more here about the history of U.S. sex offender legislation, and the key pieces of federal legislation that created the public registries. There are over 850,000 people (as of December 6, 2016, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) on U.S. sex offender registries.
After 20 years of increasingly harsh and draconian sex offender polices, namely public listings with photographs and personal information about those with a prior sex offense, as well as residency restrictions and community notification, there is little research suggesting that they are effective at protecting our children or making us safer.
At the same time, 20 years of social science and criminal justice research shows us that these laws do a tremendous amount of damage to those caught in their web. If a research study is not included here, please email me and I will add the article as soon as possible.