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Sex Offenses and the Men Who Commit Them
An Assessment of Sex Offenders on Probation
Michelle Meloy

Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

2006 • 160 pp. 6 x 9"
Sociology / Criminal Justice / Gender Studies

Sorry—this item is Out of Print

A surprising and provocative reevaluation of community efforts to police sex offenders on probation

Sex offenders are among the most despised criminals of our time, inspiring more legislation than any other class of violent offenders. Such horrific high-profile cases as those of Polly Klaas, Megan Kanka, Amber Hagerman, and, more recently, Elizabeth Smart, Jessica Lunsford, and Sarah Lunde have fed the media's overrepresentation and exploitation of cases involving unknown or barely known assailants (“stranger-danger”), which in reality constitute only a tiny percentage of all sexual assaults. Nonetheless, lawmakers and judicial personnel have responded to the false public perception that most sex crimes are perpetrated by strangers by enacting many legal policies targeted primarily at stranger offenders, including registration and community notification (often referred to as Megan's Law), AMBER alerts, intensive and/or lifetime probation (community supervision for life), specialized surveillance units, longer prison terms, and involuntary civil commitment. For better or worse, these public safety techniques are often applied to probated sex offenders, regardless of the severity of their crimes.

This book takes a hard look at this recent trend in the criminal justice response to sex crimes. Michelle L. Meloy investigated more than 150 convicted male sex offenders in a large metropolitan area who were sentenced to probation and supervised by a specialized surveillance unit. She interviewed many of these men, seeking information on the catalysts, stigmas, and effective deterrence of sexual violence. Her research is among the first to test a utility-based theory of sexual violence on a group of sex offender probationers. Rejecting the commonly held belief that sex offending is solely the result of a medical psychopathology on the part of the offender, Meloy demonstrates how certain methods of police or community surveillance undermine the ability of sex offender probationers to effectively reestablish themselves as citizens, and she provides an empirically based public policy response to sex offending that offers real promise in terms of deterrence and increased public protection.

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Reviews / Endorsements:

“This book presents an unprecedented empirical examination of sex offenders and our society's legal responses to their crimes. It combines an empirical analysis of the factors related to recidivism for a group of sex offenders on probation along with interview narratives from the offenders themselves. In an era where emotionally charged “tough on crime” legislation is the norm, the research presented here by Dr. Meloy should be required reading for policy makers and practitioners alike, as well as all other interested in protecting the lives of women and children.”Ronet Bachman, Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware

“This comprehensive study of sex offenders, the laws they have inspired, and the success of efforts to treat them is a major contribution to the professional literature. Empirical data are supplemented with the actual words of offenders whose observations are often insightful, and sometimes frightening. Meloy demonstrates a sensitive touch in balancing her sources of information, while drawing important public
policy conclusions.”
Frank R. Scarpitti, Ph.D. Edward and Elizabeth Rosenberg Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware

Author Photo

MICHELLE L. MELOY is an assistant professor in the Rutgers University Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice. She is the co-author (with Susan L. Miller) of Victimization: A Feminist Perspective (2003).

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 10:26:48 -0500