Reintegrative Shame, Stigmatizing Shame, Sex Offender, Sex-offender Registry, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Hypersexuality, Public Sex-offender Registries


This literature review analyzes the efficacy of modern legislation guiding public access to sex offender registries and draws on research utilizing surveys, interviews, and statistical observations of convicted sex offenders to determine sources of ineffective practices at the legislative level. By utilizing Braithwaite’s reintegrative shaming theory (1989), in which stigmatizing shame is significantly less efficient in criminal contexts, current legislation and its impact on common issues experienced by sex offenders (including sexually addictive behaviors and childhood sexual abuse) are examined. The discerned prevalence of stigmatizing shame in modern legislation, which focuses on the individual rather than the undesirable behavior, indicates that contemporary legislation allowing public access to sex offender registries is ineffective at facilitating the rehabilitation of sex offenders, creating an unintentional cost for both the sex offender and the general public. Because of the limits imposed by the relatively few studies performed since sex offender registries were made public, further research should be conducted to evaluate more effective and reintegrative policies, which should then advise expedient legislative changes that will better benefit both the general population and those listed on the sex offender registry.