Martin Berger

Martin Berger

2018 Undergraduate Fellow
Anthropology

Thesis title and description:

“Stay Away: Sex Offense Registries and Obstacles to Reentry”

How do sex offense registries in the United States mediate social relations between the people they contain information about, their communities, and the state? Upon release, people convicted of sex crimes must submit their names, addresses, and places of employment to a crime registry. Every state makes some of the information public, leaving this population vulnerable to vigilantism and harassment. No empirical study has found that the use of registries reduces recidivism. I will focus my research on Orange County, Florida, where residency restrictions exclude people convicted of sex offenses from living on 95 percent of residential land. Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of businesses in Florida that cater to this population by advertising affordable housing that complies with post-conviction restrictions. I will spend this summer conducting participant-observation in one of these communities and shadowing its residents. My project will explore how the category of the ‘offender’ manifests itself in their daily lives and shapes their claims to citizenship and belonging.