Risk level systems might also decrease some of the negative effects of community notification on lower risk offenders. In fact, many states have decided that to minimize disrupting the stability of low risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk they will only notify the public about offenders who pose a high risk to offend. Resources can be more effectively utilized if there is an evidence-based determination of risk with concordant notification procedures. Victim advocacy groups have also noted that notification may create a negative impact on offenders' children and family members or lead to the inadvertent identification of victims. In 2006 registration and notification requirements were again modified by the Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) which created a national system for classifying sex offenders based on the conviction offense (see ATSA’s comments on SORNA guidelines). It is estimated that there are now over 600,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. NOTE: THIS PAPER DOES NOT ADDRESS ISSUES OF REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION ON JUVENILES WHO COMMIT SEXUAL OFFENSES DUE TO THE VAST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ADULTS AND JUVENILES. Predictors of sexual recidivism: An updated meta-analysis. SEE ATSA’S COMMENTS ON SORNA GUIDELINES FOR OUR POSITION ABOUT JUVENILE REGISTRATION.
The research that has been completed is mixed and does not consistently conclude that community notification reduces recidivism, prevents sex crimes, protects children, or enhances community safety. MN, WA) where community notification has appeared to demonstrate some effectiveness utilize empirically derived risk assessment procedures and publicly identify only high risk offenders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 348-362.
All 50 states are mandated to maintain Internet websites containing sex offender registration information. Supreme Court heard two cases challenging Megan's Law. In an Alaska case, the Court ruled that registration and notification of offenders sentenced before the law went into effect did not constitute ex post facto punishment ("Smith v. The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers has developed a set of recommendations that we believe will facilitate that the original goal of registration and notification - enhanced community safety - is met in an effective manner.
Community notification statutes have been challenged on issues related to rights to privacy as well as their constitutionality. The Court upheld the constitutionality of a Connecticut statute allowing sex offenders to be identified on an Internet registry without first holding a hearing to determine their dangerousness to the community ("Connecticut Dept. Summary and Recommendations The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) believes that whenever possible development and implementation of social policies should be based on research.
By classifying offenders into risk groups based on the existence of known risk factors, communities may be able to more accurately identify those sex offenders who pose the greatest threat to public safety.
At the same time, differential notification strategies can improve cost-effectiveness.
Historically, about half of the states assigned offenders to risk levels and notified the public differentially according to the offender's threat to public safety.