Title

‘Nobody Worries about our Children’: Unseen Impacts of Sex Offender Registration on Families with School-age Children and Implications for Desistance

Publication Date

2017

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The current paper presents findings from a qualitative study using a web-based survey (n = 58) and open-ended interviews (n = 19) to investigate the impact of sex offender law and policies on family members of convicted sex offenders. Specifically, this paper discusses the impact sex offender policies and ‘extra-legal’ restrictions made by employers and landlords on housing and income stability, as well as impacts on family dynamics: a far less examined consequence of sex offender laws. Participants described how their children missed out on family bonding activities due to restrictions placed on their registrant parent, such as having their father attend school events, taking their children trick-or-treating, and going on family vacations. Responses indicated that policies intended to protect children and families are in reality tearing these family members’ lives apart. As a result, registrants and their families experienced social rejection and isolation, both of which are obstacles in the process of desistance from offending behavior and successful reintegration. Experiences of these family members shed light on the unintended punitive consequences of current sex offender policy and the critical need for reform.

Original Citation

Kilmer, A. & Leon, C.S. (2017). ‘Nobody Worries about our Children’: Unseen Impacts of Sex Offender Registration on Families with School-age Children and Implications for Desistance. Criminal Justice Studies, 30(2), 181-201. https://doi.org/10.1080/1478601X.2017.1299852