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Knowledge as PowerCriminal Registration and Community Notification Laws in America$
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Wayne A. Logan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804757102

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804757102.001.0001

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Social and Political Catalysts

Social and Political Catalysts

(p.85) 4 Social and Political Catalysts
Knowledge as Power
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the main reasons behind the rapid nationwide resurgence of registration and the genesis of community notification. The foundation for this evolution was laid by “panics” over sex offenders felt in prior decades as well as heightened public concern over child abductions in the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, a variety of other influences converged to account for the how and why of modern laws, including the public taste for punitiveness, which remains with us today. These foundational elements were augmented by a constellation of other forces that propelled both the quick passage of the laws and their onerous quality. One force in particular concerned the overt personalization of the politics driving the laws, focusing on the innocent victims of abuse and their demonic perpetrators. The personal profiles, backed by vastly overstated assertions of sex offender recidivist tendencies, instilled a sense of exigency (much as with 1930s-era registration laws targeting gangsters) and served to neutralize possible concern over the scope of registration and its ever-expanding array of requirements.

Keywords:   registration laws, community notification laws, sex offenders, abuse

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