This essay considers sex offender legislation in a number of countries, including England and Wales, Germany, and the United States, and details sex offender sentencing provisions in various systems. It evaluates the policies behind these laws. The essay deals with some key contemporary questions in relation to high-risk sex offending. Are policies being driven by populist punitiveness and an agenda based on public protection and preventive detention? Or are more welfare-driven goals taken into account? Particular sentences such as mandatory life and other forms of indeterminate sentencing, such as civil commitment, are evaluated and their use and efficacy considered. Whether such policies are lawful and also ethically acceptable is also evaluated.