A sex offender is a person who has violated a law pertaining to sex or conduct deemed related to sex. This can include rapists, statutory rapists, child pornographers, people who have engaged in illegal public nudity, and so on. One of the criticisms of the legislative process concerning sex offenses is that, rather than being driven by libertarian ethics or cost-benefit analysis, it is driven by panic over rare incidents (such as assaults under unusual circumstances that lead to laws named after the victimized child) or theoretical risks, with no recorded cases on record of incidents actually occurring that meet the described fact pattern. In the United States, at least 50 grassroots groups have been launched with the goal of changing sex-offender laws.
Some sex offender laws, such as those imposing residency restrictions on sex offenders, have been repealed as counterproductive, unjust, or wasteful of law enforcement resources. For example, laws banning registered sex offenders from Lake Forest, Orange County, California parks were repealed on the grounds that many registrants committed non-violent offenses like public urination and consensual teen sex more than 20 years ago; more than 90 percent of children are assaulted by family members or friends, teachers, coaches and clergy members; most sexual assaults occur in private places like homes, not public places like parks; and registrants are statistically unlikely to re-offend. Other anti-sex offender measures, such as registries, appear to have become a relatively permanent fixture of the legal landscape, despite being initially opposed by libertarians.
- Extein, Andrew (25 October 2013). "Fear the Bogeyman: Sex Offender Panic on Halloween". Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-extein-msw/fear-the-bogeyman-sex-off_b_4161136.html. "The reality is that there has never been a recorded case of abuse or abduction by a registered sex offender on Halloween"
- Pesta, Abigail (28 July 2011). "The Accidental Sex Offender". Marie Claire. http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/news/teen-sex-offender-3.
- Crescenzo, Sarah De and Kehler, Kelli Hart (11 January 2013). "Ban repeal sparks applause, frustration". Orange County Register. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/city-383263-ordinance-sex.html.
- Lancaster, Roger N. (20 February 2013). "Panic Does Not Make for Good Policy". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/02/20/too-many-restrictions-on-sex-offenders-or-too-few/panic-leads-to-bad-policy-on-sex-offenders. "Sex offender registries, which were opposed by civil libertarians from the start, are probably here to stay; so, too, the civil confinement laws, which allow the government to lock up individuals after their sentences."
- Coker, Matt (25 September 2013). "Orange Repeals Ordinance Requiring Sex Offenders to Post Signs at Homes on Halloween". OC Weekly. http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2013/09/orange_city_halloween_sex_offe.php.