Shedding Light on Sex Offenders

elizabeth mustaineDepartment of Sociology chair and professor Elizabeth Mustaine, Ph. D., recently co-authored an article called “Criminal Justice Officials’ Views of Sex Offenders, Sex Offender Registration, Community Notification, and Residency Restrictions.” Her article was chosen by Jon Brandt, associate blogger of the Journal of Research and Treatment, as one of the standout articles from 2015 in the field of sexual abuse.

“Criminal Justice Officials’ Views of Sex Offenders, Sex Offender Registration, Community Notification, and Residency Restrictions” focuses on individuals who are employed in the criminal justice system and how they perceive the fairness, efficacy, and scope of policies aimed at sex offenders. Dr. Mustaine and her co-authors researched attitudes and beliefs toward sex offenders and sex offender laws, including registration, community notification, and residency restrictions.

They surveyed more than 1,100 public officials across five domains: community corrections, prosecution, law enforcement, parole boards, and prison wardens, to measure attitudes about sexual offenders and beliefs about both the fairness and the efficacy of certain civil regulations for sexual offenders.

The article states that “Law enforcement officers held more negative views of sex offenders than the general public and were less likely to believe in the possibility of their rehabilitation….” The more contact that professionals had with sexual offenders, the more positive and optimistic their views were. Probation agents and psychologists held the most positive and optimistic collection of views.

This research is vital to understanding how public policies are influenced by those who work with sexual offenders; Dr. Mustaine said, “Criminal justice officials’ perspectives regarding sex offenders and sex offender policies may be especially valuable to policy makers and the public because of their direct experience with both.”

Dr. Mustaine’s research spans several areas: violence against women, stalking, criminal victimization, registered sex offenders, locations, sources, and patterns of crime, as well as publishing in criminology and criminal justice.

Currently, Dr. Mustaine is working with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to launch a program where victims of child sexual abuse are paired with a therapy dog to help them get through the criminal justice process more successfully.  She also conducts training programs on how to identify child abuse for community organizations in the Central Florida region. She also regularly talks to students at local schools and community organizations about behavioral forensics.

Comments are closed.