How does it differ from straight, cisgender individuals?
While there is some research relating to the experiences of individuals on sex offender registries, there is no published data that specifically looks at the experiences of anyone in the LGBTQ community who is also required to register as a sexual offender on a SORNA registry.
A new survey conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law was recently published whose aim was to gather general information regarding all individuals’ experiences of being on the registry as well as to specifically ascertain the experiences of non-cisgendered individuals.
The online survey was conducted between March and November of 2020 and data from 964 individuals was analyzed. Of all the respondents, 20% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer/pansexual and/or transgender. The authors stated that the percentage of LGBTQ people in the sample was almost 4 times greater than the national estimate of LGBTQ people in the US.
A summary of the findings:
- 42% of all respondents reported incomes that were below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
- 30% of LGBTQ and 20% of straight cisgender respondents were unemployed.
- This was at a time when the national unemployment rate was between 4.4% to 14.8%.
- The LGBTQ respondents, when compared to the straight cisgender respondents, more often had three or more victims (17% v 9%).
- Almost half of the LGBTQ individuals had a victim who were images vs. less than ¼ of the straight cisgender adults
- 64% of all respondents reported dissatisfaction with their defense
- Over half of all respondents were incarcerated but more LGBTQ individuals were incarcerated than straight cisgender respondents. (65% v 53%).
- 10% of the LGBTQ individuals reported that the mandated psychological treatment they attended included elements that are known as conversion therapy.
- 66% of all respondents reported being verbally insulted or abused, 45% reported being threatened with violence and 37% were robbed or vandalized and most attributed the motivation for the attacks to their being on the registry.
- Lifetime suicidality rates are very high (71% total) with LGBTQ people reported a prevalence of 77% versus 69% for cisgender straight respondents.
- Over half of all respondents reported having supportive family or friends who help them (LGBTQ 59%; cisgender 66%)
Overall, the experiences of the LGBTQ persons on the SORNA registry are similar to those of their male, cisgender straight counterparts.
Implications for Mitigation
This study provides implications not necessarily for mitigation but for post-conviction restrictions. As a result of being on the SORNA registry, almost all individuals experience negative consequences beyond their incarceration and probation. These negative consequences increase dynamic risk of recidivism. Therefore, less restrictive registry measures would not potentially contribute to an increased risk of recidivism.
Meyer, I.H., Bouton, L., Maszak-Prato, S, Semple, L. & Lave, T.R. (2022). LGBTQ People on sex offender registries in the US. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/SORS-LGBTQ-May-2022.pdf