A systematic review of surveys on public attitudes toward community notification for sex offenders
Scholarly interest in sex offender community notification laws increased after Megan's Law of 1994 mandated public notification of registered sex offenders. This interest centered primarily on public attitudes toward sex offenders and community notification. The current study consisted of a systematic analysis of published studies on public attitudes towards sex offender community notification laws between 1994 and 2010. The analysis was operationalized through a series of searches performed through library databases and internet search engines and yielded a total of 14 studies over the study period. Nine of these studies related to public attitudes toward community notification and five studies were about professional attitudes toward community notification, or a combination of professional, community, and student attitudes toward community notification. The results indicated that 1) most community-based surveys used telephone sampling, 2) surveys of employees or community and student samples used mixed methods such as classroom questionnaires, internet surveys, or personal interviews, 3) members of the public support community notification regardless of location, gender, or methodology, 4) community notification was associated with greater fear and actions to protect self and children, 5) support for community notification was strong even if participants thought notification did not help reduce recidivism and 6) public attitudes toward community notification were similar across the United States 7) law enforcement professionals showed greater support for community notification than mental health professionals, and 8) public support for community notification may have intensified over time. The study concluded that community support for community notification in the US is widespread despite evidence to suggest that notification has done little to reduce recidivism for sex offending.