What are the Costs and Benefits of the SO Registration?

Richard B. Belzer has done a study to find out the over all costs associated with operating and maintaining the sex offender Registry and community notification compared to its social benefits.  The report consists of a pair of benefit-cost analyses of the application of registration and notification laws to juvenile sex offenders. The first is a quantitative retrospective assessment of the benefits and costs of registration and notification laws as currently enacted and implemented. Previously to this there has been no actual cost analysis of the effects of these laws on American society.

The title is a little misleading THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SUBJECTING JUVENILES TO SEX-OFFENDER REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION  “Registration would have to reduce incidence by at least 60 percent to yield positive net benefits,” Belzer wrote. “Incidence reductions of this magnitude has not been observed anywhere, or even suggested by committed registration advocates.” so with no social value to the registry and community notification, who is bearing the costs. Not only is financial, but social it appears that the answer is the not only registrants themselves, but also their families, homeowners, renters and landlords, businesses, schools and the public.

Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the article:

Notification is estimated to produce no social benefits, with social costs per-year that range from $10 billion to $40 billion and present-value costs that range from -$100 billion to -$600 billion. About three-fourths of these costs are borne by sex offenders’ neighbors. This occurs because living near a registered sex offender – whether an adult or juvenile – has a substantial “disamenity” value. Costs imposed on juvenile offenders are calculated to range from $400 million to $2 billion per year. Costs on their families are calculated to add another 50 percent to these amounts. Additional costs on third parties are calculated as: $3 billion per year on employers for registry searches; $100-$500 million on employers for adaption and mitigation of employment issues; and $200 million to $1 billion on the public for registry searches.

The stated purpose of registration is to enable law enforcement to narrow its search for suspects when new sex crimes occur. The best available evidence indicates that registered offenders, even though they are more likely to commit new sex crimes than the population at large, nevertheless are responsible for a very small fraction of the crimes that are committed, even in the absence of registries. This means that when law enforcement agencies investigate registered offenders after a new sex offense is reported, contrary to television mythology, the vast majority of registrants they investigate (and quite likely, all of them) are innocent of the crime under investigation.

Nonetheless, heightened scrutiny is a real cost to innocent parties and must be counted. These costs obviously include innocent registrants’ time and attention, as well as the opportunity cost of additional precautions they may take to reduce the likelihood of bearing the costs of heightened scrutiny. Some innocent registrants will have their registration status inadvertently or improperly disclosed to third parties, in which case they will suffer additional costs concomitant with public notification.

Table 4 presents the calculated net benefits of applying sex-offender registration laws to juveniles. Costs and benefits appear about equal if the proportion of registrants listed due to offenses committed as juveniles is 5 percent. For the higher modeled proportions (17 percent and 33 percent), registration has negative net benefits of $800 million and $1 billion per year, respectively.
to read the entire study  http://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/RSTREET41.pdf

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