Public sex offender registries are at the forefront of what I’ve described in my research as a “war on sex.”
Offenders convicted of sex crimes are now singled out for surveillance and restrictions far more punitive than those who commit other types of crime. More than 800,000 Americans are now registered sex offenders. Tracking them has created a booming surveillance industry.
In my work on sex offender registries, I have found that black men in the U.S. were registered at rates twice that of white men—resembling disparities found in the criminal justice system at large. However, these findings speak to the scope of the problem of American sex offender registries, as approximately 1 percent of black men in the U.S. are now registered sex offenders. My research suggests that inequality is deeply tied to sex offender policies.