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Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies: Summary and Assessment of Research on Claimed Housing Impacts on Registered Offenders (2020)

This research brief summarizes the Federal Research Division’s (FRD’s) review and assessment of literature on SORN (sex offender registration and notification policies) and jurisdictionspecific residency restrictions’ purported impacts to offenders’ housing. As part of a larger paper analyzing research on the effects of nearly two decades of federal, state, and local sex offender registration and notification laws, we reviewed nine papers published between 2005 and 2015 that addressed or touched upon whether SORN or state and local residency restrictions have impacted the following: the ability of registered sex offenders (RSOs) to find housing, the ability of RSOs to maintain housing, the quality of RSOs’ neighborhoods, and/or the rates of RSO homelessness. Further summary and critical analysis of research methodologies underlying five additional subject areas—SORN effects on RSO employment and finances, RSO perceptions of SORN, SORN effects on RSO emotional and physical well-being, SORN impacts to families of RSOs, and SORN impacts to juvenile RSOs—are addressed in a separate brief. As policymakers often look to researchers to inform their decision-making, it is critical to not merely rely on conclusions drawn, but to assess the strength of findings and quality of research.

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