Sex Crime, Offenders, and Society: A Critical Look at Sexual Offending and Policy

Sex crime management has become a ”growth industry” recently, with several laws being enacted nationally to respond to sex offending. Perhaps reflecting this increased interest in preventing sexual violence, a growing body of literature has been devoted toward understanding the nature and extent of sex crime, its causes, and public and policy responses to sex offending. Yet, relatively few scholarly texts which summarize and review this large knowledge base currently exist. This gap is particularly striking given that contemporary discussions about sex offenders frequently rely on myths about sex crime. In turn, scholars claim that current policy responses resting on these misperceptions are not likely to be effective in preventing sex offending. This text seeks to fill this void by examining three critical dimensions of sex crime scholarship, which are covered in twelve chapters.

The first dimension, ”The Nature and Extent of Sex Offending and Prominent Theoretical Explanations,” which encompasses four chapters, reviews what is known about sexual offending and sex crime. The text then moves into the second substantive domain, ”Societal Responses to Sexual Offending,” which includes three chapters. This focus is particularly relevant toward a broader understanding of sexual offenders and sex crime policy given that public opinion, and more generally, societal impressions, have played a significant role in the creation of sex crime laws. The final focus of the text, ”Sex Crime Policy and Reform,” which includes the remaining chapters, analyzes prominent laws and policies developed in recent decades to punish and control sex offenders.

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