http://doi.org/10.1177/0887403411415398

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Publication Title

100,000 Sex Offenders Missing ... or Are They? Deconstruction of an Urban Legend

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2012

Abstract

It is frequently reported by the media and public officials that 100,000 registered sex offenders (RSOs) in the United States are “missing.” This policy note first describes the origin of this figure, which was initially derived from a 2003 informal survey of state registries conducted by a grassroots advocacy organization. Then, we explore the definitional ambiguities that complicate the process of calculating the national number of fugitive sex offenders. Finally, we present emerging research efforts to develop reliable estimates of the number and proportion of RSOs officially recorded by states as absconded, whereabouts unknown, or noncompliant with registration requirements. While such data remain limited, we find little evidence to support that 100,000 sex offenders are “missing,” using even the most inclusive definitions. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Publication

Criminal Justice Policy Review

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Volume

23

Issue

3

Pages

375-386

Department

College of Arts and Sciences

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