Holding Our Sexual Violence Policy Accountable

  • Eric S. JanusEmail author


Sexual violence policy in the United States has focused largely on prevention of recidivistic sexual offending, utilizing strategies of identification and geographic separation. Ostensibly not designed to punish, these laws have been enacted in the past two decades without serious attention to empirical or theoretical projections of their efficacy or systemic coherence. The intuitive sense that these laws have “at least some” benefit has easily overcome civil libertarian and utilitarian critiques. But recent empirical research shows convincingly that these policies can actually increase recidivism, and decrease reporting and prosecution of sexual violence. This chapter argues that we should abandon the intuition that these laws are justified because they provide “at least some” benefit, and turn to a more empirically based and systemic approach to sexual violence prevention. Asking how we can prevent the most sexual violence—in contrast to identifying and isolating the “most dangerous”—would lead us to assess programs for efficacy, and choose the most effective allocation of resources for prevention.


Sexual violence policy Sexual predator laws Public health approach Recidivism Sex offender registration and notification 



I gratefully acknowledge the skillful assistance of my research assistant Kindra Seifert in the preparation of this manuscript. Portions of this chapter are based on my previously published work. Janus (2006, 2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mitchell Hamline School of LawSt. PaulUSA

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