The legislature is debating tightening some sex offender laws which would make more information about sex offenders available online. That gets me wondering... who, exactly, checks those registries? I don't think I know anybody who does, parents included. Do these lists actually help prevent sex crimes from happening? That may not be a question that can easily be answered, unfortunately.
Update: Oh, right, I'm a librarian. Let's see (search, search, search)... the few articles about evaluation of these programs I've found so far seem to stress the fact that more evaluation and research needs to be done. Not a good sign. Other suggest that the registries weren't having an effect on sex crime recidivism, although others say that there's a small but noticible impact. One article suggested that the registries themselves could theoretically contribute to increased recidivism:
Consequently, relegation to the least desirable neighborhoods, coupled with the growing move to legislatively create "buffer zones" that prohibit registrants from living within specified distances (usually one-quarter or one-half mile) from "places children gather" (e.g., schools, day care centers, parks, libraries, etc.) has imposed additional stresses and restrictions on registered sex offenders - factors long known to contribute to increased rates of recidivism.
Yikes. Of course, that's just a theoretical possibility... but still. Not good!
Lees, Matthew. "Understanding Policy and Programmatic Issues Regarding Sex Offender Registries." Corrections Today 68(1): Feb 2006, p. 54-7.
Lastly, there's an interesting article written by a Connecticut soldier who was stationed in Iraq. It seems like it might be part of a larger piece.
What else is going on?