This essay focuses on the role of law and policy in sexual assault and offending. Comparing and contrasting U.S., Canadian, and European policy approaches, the review examines how various governments have prioritized their legal approaches to sexual offending prevention and response. These responses have included broad-based conviction-focused schemes, narrowly focused laws centered on high-risk repeat offenders, and prioritization with stranger-based assault. There has been great variance in terms of the emphasis placed on treatment and public notification. The essay analyses how these nations have learned from each other and how their sex offending policies have evolved, if and how they reflect the science of sexual offending and risk, and which demonstrate the most promise for sexual assault reduction with the fewest unintended consequences.
This article studies the development of punishment policies for sex offenders. It observes the difficulty of creating treatment and management strategies for the surveillance of sex offenders, especially when these define a broad group. It then reviews some relevant treatment literature, which determines that it is not very promising for more serious sex offenders, since the interventions that have been tried so far have not decreased reoffending. However, these interventions appear to reassure the public.