From Doug Berman comes news of a new South Carolina sex offender rag : The Lexington/Richland County Sexual Predator Offender's Listing. According to local news accounts, this paper - which had a press run of 40,000 copies - can be found can be found at businesses that carry the Northeast, News, The Cayce-West Columbia News, The Irmo News and The Lake Murray News. It's not clear that the paper is being privately published - it might be the work of the local police - but damn if there isn't a market niche here. Given general fear of sex offenders, you could surely sell tons of advertising to wrap around the 850 offenders listed in this paper. ("ADT: We Keep Offenders At Bay" or "Kelly's Day Care: Where Background Checks Are A Way of Life"). Indeed, I assume that the publisher of local shoppers, advertisers and penny press will see a nice venture here.
This brings two thoughts to mind, both (not surprisingly) related to some of my previous work. First, there's something interesting about a publisher turning uncopyrighted legal materials into salable content. (See From Law to Content in the New Media Marketplace). Second, looking at the Richland County sex offender database, it appears that this is a region in which community notification has a serious (and perhaps disparate) impact on African-Americans. (See Silence and the Racial Dimension of Megan's Law).
Sex offender community notification may not reduce crime, and it may undermine community reintegration (that is, if you believe the silly empirical research.) But maybe, just maybe, it'll make some savvy entrepreneurs a few bucks. Not quite the utility lawmakers expected but utility nonetheless.