Kristen M. Zgoba
This essay begins with a review of public reaction to sexual offenses and the rise in social awareness that sex offenses have promoted. Statistics exploring the prevalence of sexual abuse in the United States and the United Kingdom will be given. As a result of a number of widely publicized sexual abuse cases (particularly child sexual abuse cases), a variety of laws applied to sexual offenders have been enacted from 1990 to 2010. Although different, these policies tend to center around four common themes: sex offender registration and notification, civil commitment, residency restrictions, and risk assessment. The essay examines these legislative efforts to assess their effectiveness at reducing sexually offensive behaviors and discusses the controversies surrounding such legislation.
Kimberly R. Kras
This essay discusses the role of informal social control for sex offenders who are reentering the community after imprisonment. The essay begins by reviewing the reintegration of sex offenders into communities, noting that they might reintegrate differently than other offenders. Considering how informal social control occurs across the life course for sex offenders may offer insight into specific mechanisms of desistance. The essay discusses the role in reentry of relationships, such as family, friends, and intimate partners, as well as the support function of social networks and community-oriented informal controls, such as school, employment, and other forms of civic engagement. The role of the community for sex offenders is tenuous, considering the legal and social policies that govern their movement and involvement in certain activities. The emerging role of the therapeutic community and the treatment group is examined. Controversies in the role of social support for sex offenders are also reviewed.