Sex offender community notification laws: Are their effects symbolic or instrumental in nature?

Lisa L. Sample, Mary K. Evans, Amy L. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Researchers interested in public policy have noted that laws may have a symbolic or an instrumental function. The example of sex offender legislation is used to look for both instrumental and symbolic effects of this legislation. Although the symbolic effects of sex offender legislation have been examined by prior research, less is known about the instrumental effects of this legislation. This research examines the instrumental functions of sex offender legislation using survey data that asked about whether members of the public have checked the sex offender registry and the reasons behind their answer. The findings of this study suggest largely symbolic effects of sex offender registry legislation, and implications of this finding are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-49
Number of pages23
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011



  • Nebraska sex offender registry
  • instrumental legislation
  • sex offender legislation
  • symbolic legislation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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