PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARDS CALIFORNIA’S NEW LAW TO END LIFETIME SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION
California is one of four states in the U.S. that still requires all sexual
offenders to register for life. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would
change the present structure into a three-tiered system on January 1, 2021. The
purpose of this study is to survey public attitude toward lifetime sexual offender
registration and examine the effects of an educational video on attitude changes.
“If you present information factually in a neutral way, you can get people to think differently about these beliefs that they’ve held for a long time,” said Azizian, who supervised the study.
Azizian has researched sex offender rehabilitation and laws for about 11 years. This was his second year supervising student theses. He said Galeana’s thesis is one of the first that looked at public attitudes on a topic that is intensely debated. With a topic as polarizing as sex offender laws, Azizian said the recipe for civil discourse around the topic was simple.
“You have to take people’s sensitivity toward political topics into consideration when you want to get them to think of the alternative point of view,” Azizian said.
The video at the center of Galeana’s study includes criminal justice prosecutors and victim advocates who, according to Azizian, “pretty much agree on the basics.” Those basics include that the lifetime registry may no longer be an adequate choice for punishment when the chance of sex offenders re-offending is between 7 to 15 percent, Azizian said. He added that changing the law will help prosecutors and the justice system focus their resources more efficiently.