Date of Award

Winter 1-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Elizabeth Jeglic

Second Reader

Erin Williams

Third Advisor

Martin McElhiney


Sex offender legislation, both at the state and federal level, was designed to keep communities safer. However research suggests that many of these laws do not decrease recidivism and in some cases may increase risk for reoffending. Despite this there has been little movement to repeal these laws. As such, it is important to understand how the current legislation impacts individuals who have committed a sex offense and their ability to successfully reintegrate into communities post-incarceration and what if anything can be done to improve existing laws. The current study surveyed 46 individuals convicted of sex offenses about their opinions about current sex offender legislation and what they would do to improve it. Respondents consistently endorsed negative attitudes towards sex offender-specific legislation. When asked to consider future offenders' punishments, respondents overall endorsed more punitive legislation when the crime in question was committed against a child vs. an adult. Recommendations for improvement included a more ‘case-by-case’ lens when considering the sanctions a person should have to face, less punitive restrictions, and shorter-term sentencing. Findings are discussed as they pertain to future research and legislative reform.



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