According to our analysis, more than 786,000 people are currently listed on states’ sex offender registries (as of February 2023). Compared to our 2022 research, the number of registered sex offenders in the U.S. has climbed by about three percent.
These numbers fluctuate throughout the year as people are added to and removed from registries. Since we began this research in 2019, this is the highest number of individuals listed on states’ registries; generally, at least 750,000 people are listed at any given time.
|States with the most registered sex offenders
|States with the most registered sex offenders per 100,000 residents
*As of February 2023
While the two biggest states lead the nation when it comes to sheer numbers of registered sex offenders, after adjusting for differences in population, the picture changes. Oregon, which ranks sixth for the overall number of sex offenders, ranks first for sex offenders per 100,000 residents.
There are several reasons for Oregon’s high rates: first, like several other states, Oregon only maps the addresses of the most severe offenders, but unlike other states, it publishes the total number of all offenders regardless of the severity of their crime. Additionally, Oregon law requires some sex offenders to remain on the state registry for life, and over 25 different offenses can lead to registration. These factors could contribute to its large registry rolls. Oregon’s high rate of registered offenders may also indicate that people in Oregon report sex offenses frequently, and their legal system is able to prosecute large numbers of offenders.
Though Arkansas’ public registry only includes the highest-risk offenders, it still had the nation’s second-highest rate of registered sex offenders. Arkansas was followed closely by Alaska, which had 454 registered sex offenders per capita. New Jersey, which ranks 39th for the raw number of registered offenders, has the lowest population-adjusted rate in the nation. However, New Jersey’s public registry only contains information about the offenders with the highest risks of re-offending, and does not list the addresses of people who committed “less severe” sex offenses.
In addition to varying over the course of a year as people are added to or removed from their respective state registries, it’s also important to note that states may make legislative changes that affect how their offender registries work, making numbers rise or fall. As mentioned, some states only publicly list offenders who committed the most serious crimes or offenders who are most likely to repeat their crimes.
Since we began conducting this research in 2019, the number of registered sex offenders has risen by several thousand, while rates have varied based on population changes. In fact, while the total number of sex offenders is higher this year than it was in 2021, the population-adjusted rate is slightly lower.
U.S. registered sex offenders by year, number and rate per 100,000 people
|Rate per 100,000
Note: Data collected in October 2019, May 2021, April 2022, and February 2023