AWA – False Sense of Security

With the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA), states
are required to standardize their registration and community notification practices by
categorizing sex offenders into three-tier levels in the interest of increasing public
safety. No empirical research, however, has investigated whether implementation of the
AWA is likely to increase public safety. Using a sample of registered sex offenders in
New York State, the current study examined the effectiveness of the Adam Walsh-tier
system to classify offenders by likelihood of recidivism. Results indicated that the
AWA falls short of increasing public safety. In fact, registered sex offenders classified
by AWA as Tier 1 (lowest risk) were rearrested for both nonsexual and sexual offenses
more than sex offenders in Tier 2 (moderate risk) or Tier 3 (highest risk).

AWA – False Sense of Security


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