Methods: Using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), 728 individuals in Michigan were surveyed regarding their views of sex offender registration. A likert-scale measure assessed agreement with the states statutory rape law. Predictor variables included: race, gender, education, income, marital status, knowing a victim of a sex crime and being convicted of any crime. The control variable related to fear of a statutory rapist was also included in the analysis. Bivariate analysis and hierarchical logistic regression were conducted to investigate the relationships between the predictor variables, fear of individuals convicted of statutory rape, and agreement with required registration of these individuals.
Results: 64% believed that individuals convicted of statutory rape should be required to register. Hierarchical logistic regression models significantly and correctly classified 64% of the cases in Model 1 (x2(11,N= 460)=26.314, p=.006); 75% after controlling for duration in the program (Model 2-x2(12, N=460)=120.113, p<.000). In Model 1, 8% of the variance was explained by the predictor variables; Model 2 showed 31%, suggesting that fear accounted for another 24% of the variance. Fear of individuals convicted of statutory rape, being previously convicted of a crime and income level significantly predicted agreement with registration. The odds of agreement with required registration decreased with higher income levels and previously being convicted of any crime. Respondents who noted that they were afraid of statutory rapists had eight times higher odds of required registration.
Conclusions and Implications: As sex offender registration has been drawn from high profile cases involving heinous child homicides, the public has experienced an increased awareness of crimes involving sex offenses (Lowry, 2003). This fear leads the public to include all forms of sex offences into registration policies. However, research shows that use of the registry does not cause the public to take safety precautions (Anderson & Sample, 2008). Due to the costs of sex offender registration it is suggested that registration be limited to statutory rape cases where the age difference is excessive.