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NY: “All Sex Offender Registries Should Be Abolished”: Reason/Soho Forum Debate


That’s the highly controversial resolution that will be argued at the next Soho Forum/Reason debate, on Monday, February 12 at New York’s Subculture Theater from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Emily Horowitz will argue the affirmative position. She is professor and chair of the sociology and criminal justice department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, where she founded a program that helps the formerly incarcerated complete college.

Marci A. Hamilton will take the negative. She is Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Reason And The Soho Forum Want To Know, Do We Abolish The Registry?




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Thanks for publicizing this. More people will hear arguments for abolishing the “sex offender registry” Hopefully some NY judges will be in attendance.

If the super expensive ny state sex registry works even a little, then explain this.

For anyone who has ridden the 4 and 5 train during rush hour rubbing on someone’s butt is gonna happen a few thousand times without even trying. But who knows maybe these guys whipped it out and we’re going to town. But from the way the story is written it sounds like the police were stalking them looking for any little thing since they can’t do stop and frisk anymore. The first guy wasn’t even being a danger though. Other than the knife. But maybe he is homeless and needs to protect himself at night. There was an issue before… Read more »


Guessing this is your point, but bears stating:

One was recognized from a poster. Nothing about how the other two were identified, so odds are their RSO status wasn’t known until after they were arrested. Bottom line, the registry was useless in preventing these incidents.

Of course the politicians, bureaucrats, and self-interested businessmen will “compromise” and agree to a “risk” based registry.

I agree, but they’re highly unrealistic in their “threat” assessment. Someone right out of prison may be a threat since they were just let back out into society, but someone that’s been out 10 years with no problems with the police or registration? A person who probably has started a family of their own and is law abiding? It’s completely nonsense to say the person is a threat.

I had my “risk assessment” when I had moved to New York. Had 40 character letters , brought in a character witness who was a government employee I had known my whole life. At first they kept postponing my hearing. Total I had to go to that court house 7 times before I could even get a chance. The last time was because they had to bring in the head prosecutor for the state as the original one had never had anyone reject the assessment of level 2. They called me a drug addict alcoholic criminal who had no intention… Read more »

I myself would like to move out of the country if this nonsense doesn’t change within the next 6 years once the first three of my kids are out of the house. My wife and I don’t mind taking the other two since they’re so young. I have a degree and work in Information Technology, but am clueless to what country We could even go to am I and my wife be successful. By that time I will have been out of prison for almost 20 years, crime and drama free and raised three kids and have two left, yet… Read more »

There’s nothing I would like better either. The problem is that, as ex-felons, we are not very attractive to most other countries who, invariably, have exquisite requirements for both acquiring permanent residency and demonstrating “good character,” usually in the form of an FBI report (which we pay for) and which is sent directly by the FBI to that country’s immigration officials. This is one of the major bummers of being an ex-con if you have aspirations for leaving the country.

Honestly I got lucky. My wife happens to be from a country that will let you in as long as you have already served your sentence. With that the visa form doesn’t have and question about character or anything like that. When I went for my interview they only asked if I had broken any laws here.

The only time they will ask for the background check according to the forms is when I apply for citizenship but that could be 20 years before I’m eligible. But even that is a local background check.

You are very lucky, indeed Sam. I keep forgetting about the marrying a national angle, probably because that’s not really an option for me 🙂 It does seem to exist in some countries still.

The IML thing kinda screwed Thailand for us in the fact that their policy also used to be that as long as you hadn’t committed a crime in Thailand you were welcome to get a long term visa. My original plan was to go to Thailand to live at a muy thai camp. A few of them would sponsor the visa and lodging if you promised to work there while training. But now since it seems they want to please the ปีศาจขาว so that kinda kills things for those of us who had a promising sports career 😂😂last time I… Read more »

Sam, I assume that “ปีศาจขาว” is “falang.” Congratulations if you are able to read “curley-que.” That is a really tough language to learn. I loved Thailand. The people were wonderful (mostly) and it was a great place to relax and eat great food and lay on the beach.

@david directly translates to “white demon” 😂😂 “pisac si khaw” I don’t know much Thai at all. I’m still working on Cantonese, Thai is like the 6th language on my list to learn. When I was there a couple months ago most of the people spoke English anyway. I was happy I stayed away from all the tourist areas. Surprisingly next to the airport in Phuket is a really quiet hidden beach to avoid tourists and relax in the sun. Taxi cost are ridiculous there though. Cost just as much as the US. Was like 800 baht per person from… Read more »

I’m still a threat to society? If that’s the case., this isn’t a society I want to be a part of.
Your statement reminded me of a quote from the late-Senator Harold Hughes (IA) who said: “If a society imprisons those who are sick as a means of getting them well, and dares to call itself an enlightened society, then we need to examine the credibility of our enlightenment.”

It’s not an exact match to what you’re saying, but it’s certainly in the same family!

I feel your pain. Despite having only one non-violent, no-contact offense on my record, despitr being listed in the low-risk tier in VA, despite the prosecution’s psychologist stating I’m at low-risk for reoffense, despite my court-appointed therapist saying I’ll be successful in NY, despite the fact I got accepted to grad school with the uni knowing of my conviction, the prosecutor pushed for tier 2. When I appealed, the poor ADA they dispatch showed up late, gave a really lackluster performance in court and was corrected by the judge for doing some procedural stuff incorrectly. After the court ruled in… Read more »

Nobody can foresee what a person will or will not do, unless they are psychic, and in that case, they should be in an all together different area of work. Look at all these “Me Too” people coming forward, accusing those who nobody would have thought were capable of wrongdoing. We can’t judge people based on what they did and assume they will do it again. Just like we can’t assume that people who never did anything wrong won’t do it in the future. They will just have to take their chances. If someone has turned their life around, made… Read more »

It is concerning that Static 99R is becoming law here in California. Nothing more than a limited tool that’s only useful for (IF any) a few years out of release. If the compromise really becomes risk over offense, then they (the government and profiting companies) are just buying time. Advocating for a risk based over offense based is just trading one side of hell over another.

I certainly agree with you. I remember hearing that CASOMB and/or SARATSO might be in the process in modifying the Static-99R/SARATSO tool — though I don’t know if it will be for the better or worse. The Static tests are only as good as its weakest link — and the fact is that its “risk factors” derive from 1970’s Canadian/UK offenders (who were deemed “particularly violent”). Of course, CASOMB will use Karl Hanson to write “studies” that happen to endorse whatever “static” method the government — and its corrupt behind-the-scenes players — selects to employ.

Glad to see our plight become fodder for good sport. This debate is not going to create new laws or abolish old ones. (It might change a few minds in the audience, but that’s about it) These are two law professors going into a competition to see who can make a better argument. Debates don’t award victories to the person who was RIGHT, they’re literally a contest to see which person can present facts in a predetermined format better (if a winner is determined at all). They don’t even have to believe what they are arguing. They are often assigned… Read more »

HOW TO HELP MAKE REAL CHANGE: These debates are not about magical, instant change. It’s about planting seeds that may take a long time to bear fruit in people’s minds. Major issues in American history were debated fiercly and sometimes for many, many years before a major change occurred. That’s why we need to plant seeds individually, in the appropriate way and time to family, close friends, and so on. We don’t blast them with anger, but we share our hearts and pain. One of the best ways is to come in person when ACSOL and other support groups challange… Read more »

The more something is repeated (even if a lie), the more it is believed–even when you *know* better. ( We’ve suffered the short end of that long enough; time for the pendulum to swing back.

Except that Emily Horowitz is already fully-dedicated to our cause and has worked to influence others against the Registry. Also, people watch and are influenced by debates, including people whose views often count, even policymakers and analysts. I think that you are greatly undervaluing the potential for this debate. It is between two people who are fully-invested in their respective causes and who assume high profiles within them. Emily has spoken eloquently at several of our conferences and is the author of “Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us.” I see her opponent as one of our… Read more »

Her opponent’s pedigree indicates she part of the “if it saves just one child” crowd. It could be an interesting debate.

2.2% recidivism rates in 1997 according to the CA AGs own antiquated reports. Far cry from “frightening and high” 80%.

That’s what I’m talking about. Thank god the democrats have finally found their spine. History shows us quite well that you don’t stop fascists or their sympathizers by appeasing them.

If the debator who is for abolishment’s heart isn’t in it, they will pretty much get embarrassed. It takes a special kind of person to present this argument. The spouse of a registrant who’s innocent childrens lives have been for no reason Dismantled, by the only & actual accomplishments of this registry monstrosity seems a good choice. Your honor, please?? For The Children.

The sex offender registry was never meant to keep everyone safe, it is a continuation of the punishment of those convicted any kind of sex crime and we think that war on drugs is the greatest contributing cause of US mass incarceration what about the sex offender registry, isn’t that the contributing cause of the US mass incarceration? Yes, abolish the sex offender registry no ifs, ands, or buts.

Great debate. Glad I watched it and glad Emily ‘won’ There was one thing that wasn’t mentioned. I wanted to shout it out to the screen. It could have been a fitting response, when the sour faced lady claimed that the registry was valid if it could save one child. How many children of registrants must suffer shame and bullying in order to save that one child? Anyway, the voters have resoundingly seen through the stock fear mongering the opposition relied on and voted for E. Horowitz, champion. 70% down with the registry!

I seriously wish they would get rid of the registry for several reasons, for starters I can’t go home, I’m literally stuck in NY til 2031, if I was to relocate back to my home state i would automatically be declared a level 3, only in NY that I’m labeled as a level 1 offender, Nearly every state I’ve looked into decides your risk level by the crime you were convicted of instead of looking at the circumstances and the reason in why things happened, If I was to go back I would be subjected to a 2k foot residence… Read more »

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