Implications for U.S. Higher Education
Research has shown that sex offender statutes and registry websites vary widely between states (Brewster, DeLong, & Moloney, 2012; Lytle, 2015; Mancini, Barnes, & Mears, 2011).
Some state statutes contain special rules for registered sex offenders enrolled or employed at higher education institutions, and some websites display the college name or address where a registrant is a student or employee. These rules, and their variations, are problematic in that they inhibit access to people who could benefit from the rehabilitative effects of higher education, including reduced recidivism and improved employability (Davies et al., 2014). In addition, members of the campus community and college administrators may face unintended consequences of the varying policies, such as misperceptions of safety and issues of policy enforcement. No research has been conducted to examine how many states have higher education rules for sex offenders, what those rules require, or the extent of variation in those rules across states. In this study, I analyzed state sex offender statutes and registry websites for content related to higher education in order to advance the scholarship on sex offender policy variation and to raise awareness about an understudied issue of access in higher education.