The Economics of Sex Offender Policy and Prevention

  • Anthony D. PerilloEmail author


In the face of national budgetary concerns and questions about the effectiveness of sex offender policies, increased attention has been given to the long-term viability of current efforts to reduce sex offending. With finite resources available, it is imperative that investments in sexual violence prevention focus on practices that make the greatest impact. The following chapter examines the contribution of economic perspectives in evaluating sex offender policy efforts. The first section provides background on economic analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of a program. Topics covered in this section include an introduction to Return on Investment (ROI) analysis, calculating costs and benefits, a review of ROI analyses of behavioral health programs, and additional considerations for economic investigations related to behavioral health. An overview of sex offender policy efforts follows, with focus on three widespread policies that proliferated in the 1990s: Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) commitment, Registration and Community Notification Laws (RCNLs), and Residence Restrictions. Discussion of each policy includes an overview of the nature and aims of the policy, summary of known implementation and maintenance costs, review of the empirical literature (with an emphasis on outcome studies), and insight into the policy’s current economic effectiveness. Additional efforts with encouraging results—those rooted in treatment of criminogenic needs and prosocial development—are then reviewed. The chapter concludes with a summary of the (poor) economic effectiveness of current sex offender policy efforts, with additional considerations for comprehensive, informed economic analysis aimed at strengthening current efforts to address sexual offending.


Sex offending Sex offender policy Economics Return on Investment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana University of PennsylvaniaIndianaUSA

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