Effects of sex offender registration policies on juvenile justice decision making

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Debajyoti Sinha, Kevin Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This study examines effects of sex offender registration policies on juvenile judicial decision making. Prosecutor decisions and disposition outcomes are examined across a 15-year period. Results indicate that prosecutors are significantly less likely to move forward on both serious sexual and assault offense charges after registration implementation, with the estimated effect nearly twice as large for sexual offenses. There also is increased likelihood of guilty findings for sexual and assault offenses over time. As new policies legislate harsher consequences for juvenile offenses, prosecutors become less likely to move forward on sexual and assault charges. This effect is especially strong for juvenile sexual offenders, who face reforms targeting both violent and sexual crimes. Results suggest that state and national policies requiring long-term public registration of juveniles might unintentionally decrease the likelihood of prosecution. If replicated, the results indicate a need to reform registration policies as applied to juveniles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalSexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Juvenile sexual offenses
  • Prosecution
  • Registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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