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Reason and the Soho Forum Want to Know, Do We Abolish the Registry?

[UPDATED links 2/21/18] []

Dr. Emily Horowitz, noted sex offense policy researcher, and Marci Hamilton, child safety advocate, went toe-to-toe in an engaging debate Monday night, which may be a first of its kind on the need for sex offender registries. On the resolution for whether the laws requiring those convicted of sex offenses to put their names in a registry should be abolished, Dr. Emily Horowitz argued the affirmative and Ms. Marci Hamilton the negative. Even though Dr. Horowitz crafted a well-reasoned argument against the use of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) policies, Marci Hamilton’s rebuttals highlighted the emotional rhetoric plaguing any serious conversation and reconsideration of SORN policies.

Dr. Horowitz opened by unapologetically declaring that SORN policies are grounded in emotional reasoning that doesn’t help society reckon with sexual wrongdoing. There is no room for accountability in our current retribution-based system of laws. Empirical evidence demonstrates that not only were sex crime rates on the decline prior to the enactment of SORN policies, but they also don’t prevent sexual violence or reduce rates of re-offense. Registries are based on faulty assumptions, create numerous collateral consequences, exacerbate social inequalities, and are inconsistently applied. Dr. Horowitz concluded by remarking that even Patty Wetterling has changed her mind on registries and called on the audience for an open-minded and rational approach to registries.

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Takeaways from the First-Ever Debate on Sex-Offense Registries [added 2/21/18]


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  1. Q

    Hey…..Wow!….. I didn’t know all registrants had “150 victims!!!” Marci Hamilton is a quack and part of a larger problem, namely the slow death of the Constitution.

    • Tim Moore

      Hey Q, that means 850,000 registrants have in aggregate 127.5 million victims. Oh, wait, only one in four are reported, so the actual number of victims of sexual assault is 510 million — so a half billion people ruined for life. Explains a lot. Wow. Problem is there is only about 325 million people total in the US. Must be those travelling registrants. That’s it.

  2. American Detained in America

    “Prior to the debate 39% voted in the affirmative, 22% in the negative, and 39% were undecided. 72% of the audience closed ranks around Dr. Horowitz after she razed the hastily constructed fortress of feelings about the registry. 16% sided with Ms. Hamilton and 12% were still undecided.”

    This shows that getting the right information out there into the mainstream is key to abolishing the registry. What would it take to have a debate like this on mainstream media, especially something like FoxNews where a vast majority of their audience favors the registry and constant additions to the burdens on us?

    • AlexO

      Some people will always believe the world is flat regardless of any evidence short of forcing them onto a space shuttle. Even then, I’d wager some would still find something as “proof” to how its all fake despite being a witness. But most people will believe facts and its this majority that we need to continue educating.

      I, and probably most of us, believed all this BS even while we were committing our crimes. It took first hand experience to realize how wrong the popular perception was and to not simply dismiss it out of hand as “pedo lovers”.

    • Ron

      “FoxNews where a vast majority of their audience favors the registry…”

      Do you have a source for that?

      • David Kennerly, Fully "Diluted Grander"

        Ron, this is one of those things that doesn’t require a specific citation but simple observation over a span of years. FoxNews is among the Registry’s greatest supporters. CNN comes in at a close second.

        • AJ

          Agreed. After all, it butters their bread to report on these horrible RCs running rampant, assaulting everyone and everything in sight.

          I think about the only place that would even consider airing such an event would be C-SPAN…and even then, it would be on C-SPAN 8…The Ocho (tip of the hat to the movie, “Dodgeball.” See also:

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          AJ, and you will agree that Reason Magazine or Cato Institute, both libertarian entities, are clearly the only organizations that air debates such as the one Emily Horowitz won hands-down and take a public stance against the sex offender registry. I might add that the Koch brothers, much vilified by the left (and sometimes with good reason) are contributors and/or founders of both organizations. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          Marci Hamilton is coming from some sort of left-center political position based on her views on religious exemptions, abortion rights, feminism, LBGTQ, etc.

        • AJ

          @David Kennerly:
          Yes, I do agree on all counts. The Kochs are routinely maligned as right-wingers or wanting to “take over the government” (which is starting to sound more and more appealing, based on the nincompoops on all sides in D.C.), but are more libertarian than anything. Nobody seems to care of mention that the “David H. Koch Charitable Foundation” funds, among many other things, programs on that (start: sarcasm) liberal, money-wasting entity known as PBS (end: sarcasm).

          P.S. Isn’t dilution a binary concept? Can one be partially diluted?

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          I think that “dilution” exists on a continuum. It may even be mood-dependent, like Trump’s protean assessments of his net worth.

    • New Person

      It helps when the moderator asks about the registry for arsonists, because they kill kids too. It gives perspective to the audience b/c the moderator is them in asking what seems like an obvious question.

      The answer Marci gives is solely retributive to registrants.

      Presenting stats that the registry didn’t change the rates of recidivism and that the recidivism rates have always been low was an eye popper! The research work was done by the state of NJ and others. So after serving your time, can registrant be able to re-integrate into society? Marci’s answer is no, never.

      Emily also presented Dr. Hanson’s work that even the highest risk aren’t a risk after 17 years. Marci still did not want to buy it. Marci is like the state of Ca. I recall Janice presenting the facts that Dr. Hanson had done, with 17 years being the max amount of custody. Yet Ca did not care, but they care enough to use Dr. Hanson’s Static 99. Talk about being a hypocrite in fact supporting, right?

  3. Interesting

    So there is little to no evidence that a registry prevents recidivism and/or protects the public. Evidence suggest that a registry actually *causes* recidivism–presumably because it hinders a person’s successful reintegration. Yet CASOMB continues to call for a registry that focuses attention to “high” risk offenders. I wonder if the egregious conflict-of-interests, as well as business interests, within CASOMB impacts the decision to back a ‘high’ risk registry.

    • New Person

      CA believes in Dr. Hanson’s risk assessment (Static 99), but doesn’t believe in his max years of custody in his research work, which is 17 years.

      • Interesting

        Don’t want to seem like a smart ass, but “Dr.” Hanson has said that the Static-99R is only valid for two (2) years. Not 17, not even 10, but two years. See page 13:

        “The longer an offender has been free of detected sexual offending since his release to the community from their index sex offence, the lower their risk of recidivism. Our research has found that, in general, for every five years the offender is in the community without a new sex offence, their risk for recidivism roughly halves (Hanson, Harris, Helmus, & Thornton, 2014). Consequently, we recommend that for offenders with two years or more sex offence free in the community since release from the index offence, the time they have been sex offence free in the community should be considered in the overall evaluation of risk. Static risk assessments estimate the likelihood of recidivism at the time of release and we expect they would be valid for approximately two years.”

        Also, Static only claims to measure recidivism from the time a person is released from incarceration. It is not dynamic and does not measure as a person progresses in age and/or one’s offense-free behavior in the community. Current age and offense-free behavior, post-incarceration, are not even one of the “risk factors” in the Static’s 10 questions. Flawed… and very strange…

        • AlexO

          It would be a little more forgiving if the two things are independent, but it’s the Static-99 documentation itself that has these facts in it. CA is literally ignoring the instruction manual they’re using.

        • New Person

          @ Interesting,

          Allow me to re-iterate, because maybe I didn’t express it with clarity.

          The length of custody by the state research (registration) in respect to recidivism is at max of 17 years. That is one study based upon actual re-offenses.

          The static-99 is a different study. It’s the study of “potential recidivism”, or potential re-offenses. And as you note, it’s only good for 2 years. This is a different study.

          CA is picking things to exert their power over registrants in the research, but is willfully omitting other research work from Dr. Hanson. CA isn’t taking the research work as a whole. Because if it did, then:
          1) You’d have a new risk assessment every two years
          2) The max registration length would be 17 years, for the highest risk offenders.

          But that’s not the case. Your static-99 remains the only assessment for your registration term. And, in CA, your registration term is a lifetime. Even in the proposed tiered in CA, there exists three term minimums: 10 years, 20 years, and lifetime term. I say minimum b/c CA can extend it upon another “court decision reviewing your old case”.

          If CA used Dr. Hanson’s max length of 17 years, then the tier lengths would differ vastly. For this example, let’s use 90 years as a lifetime term b/c minors can be on the registry. Now, we can create a respective ration to the 17 years.

          Ratios (w/ 90 years being lifetime term)
          10 years/90 years = 0.11
          20 years/90 years = 0.22
          90 years/90 years = 1.00

          Apply ratios to current proposal tier lengths:
          10 years x 0.11 = 1.1 years on the registry
          20 years x 0.22 = 4.4. years on the registry
          lifetime x 1.00 = 17 years on the registry

          In conclusion, CA isn’t using all scientific based measures to guide itself. It is using “specific” measures that benefits only CA courts by neglecting to use the other studies from the same Dr. Hanson they rely upon. That’s bad science being implemented.

        • New Person

          @ AlexO,

          CA ignoring what the actual study states to do is exactly what I am saying the state of CA is doing. And they are still doing it in their tiered proposal (wait.. it’s gonna be law now).

          How can you boast static-99 and then disregard it’s supposed to be re-evaluated two years later as well as give you a better risk assessment for not offending during that time? How can you boast static-99 and have lifetime terms? All these works come from the same research Doctor.

        • Tim Moore

          According to Hanson, the Static 99 or any other general assessment should no longer be used after 17 years, because the rate of re-offense for all former sex offenders drops to the same level as the general public at around that point. So scientifically speaking, no registry makes sense as a deterrent for those over 17 years offense free.

        • David Kennerly, A Risk To Whom?

          Personally, I think that the specific citation of Static-99 in the Tiered Law is the State’s (California’s) Pandora’s Box (or some other metaphor that escapes me at the moment) and to their disadvantage. Static-99 is clearly on a precipice, nationwide, and is going to be fought. We will win that fight in the fullness of time, sooner rather than later, I believe. There is a payload in their law which they haven’t discerned or, if they did, they can (very convincingly) plead ignorance.

        • Tim Moore

          David, maybe the S 99 is the Trojan Horse? Or one of them. It almost seems that the lawmakers are inviting in the ultimate destruction of their laws.

        • Interesting

          @Alex: Agreed.

          @New Person: Thanks for clearing it up. However, note that in the study of Hanson’s 17 year claim he cites himself and/or his fellow Static-99 developers as sources within his study. There is an egregious conflict-of-interest at heart. A conflict-of-interest that few experts, including Professor Horowitz, have never seemed to address in virtually all of Hanson’s “studies.”

          @Tim Moore: Has Karl Hanson ever addressed the fact that there are no scientific studies that prove registration as having prevented crime in the first place? Empirical studies show registration laws either *causing* recidivism, or having no effect. Could it be that if registration laws were to be struck down, Hanson knows that his “science” will flush down the toilet along with the registration laws?

          @David: I certainly hope you are correct. It will be very interesting to see how, if any attorney does decide to battle it (in the context of the tiered registry), the attorneys will battle the Static-99R in the Courts. There will need to be published studies, without Hanson and/or his cohorts as author(s), that further expose the Static-99R flaws.

        • Tim Moore

          Hi Interesting, (I’m old fashioned, what’s with this social media @ [name here] stuff) just saying if they are picking someone to be their expert, they should apply all his findings. I don’t have the skills to assess Hanson’s work, but I can recognize cherry picking.

        • Dave C.


          Karl Hanson’s ‘sciences’ have us distracted from the main point: Registries do not help but hurt. As some of you mentioned, registries keep people from successfully reentering free life—and this is backed by several empirical studies by J.J. Prescott and Amanda Agan.

          If registries are aimed at only ‘high’ scores—and assuming that the STATIC is even remotely true—the STATIC then harms an already vulnerable population, which may perversely skew data, though through dishonest means (whether inadvertently or not) in favor of the STATIC’s ‘high’ risk flag.

          Dr. Horowitz is credible. But when Horowitz cites Karl Hanson—at least in my personal opinion—it cheapens her argument. Throughout the years, there have been inconsistencies with Karl Hanson’s ‘studies’—and in the meantime, these flawed STATIC scores stick with people without Hanson speaking out that his dubious creations have been grossly misused by the government.

          If Hanson’s STATIC-99R scam over-exaggerates, then I bet that that 17 year figure is overblown too. 17 years just seems awfully too long—even for those that score ‘high’—that I’m willing to wager that Hanson has some type of vested interest, maybe from government pressure (financial funding or otherwise), to exaggerate data. But even if Hanson’s 17 year statistic is true, where is the evidence—from Hanson or his STATIC partners—that shows registration preventing crime? As ‘Interesting’ said, other empirical evidence shows that registration only causes crime—and Hanson, Hanson’s STATIC partners, and CA SOMB only gloss over the sex registry’s failure to prevent crime.

          Karl Hanson’s ‘sciences’ have us distracted from the main point: Registries do not help but hurt. Giving Hanson any credibility whatsoever, in light of the fact Hanson only cites himself or his cronies in his ‘studies,’ ultimately hurts us—and helps Hanson, who has been on corrupt CA SOMB’s payroll (evidenced by the 2016 CA DOJ ‘study’ authored by Hanson’s student and Hanson himself).

          My ultimate point is that if you give Hanson any respect or credibility now, then you are in a weaker position should Hanson continue to manipulate STATIC data that helps the government’s cause in the future. You just gotta wonder: How many people’s Due Process Rights have Karl Hanson violated—and will soon violate with the new ‘risk’ based tiered law—with his many STATIC scams? And given that Hanson benefits from the STATIC’s misuse without him even speaking up—and, for whatever reason, even going to the egregious extent of hiding data from the U.S. courts—should Hanson deserve any recognition whatsoever?? My person opinion: Hell no!

          Dave C.

        • Interesting

          @Dave C., you said:

          “If registries are aimed at only ‘high’ scores—and assuming that the STATIC is even remotely true—the STATIC then harms an already vulnerable population, which may perversely skew data, though through dishonest means (whether inadvertently or not) in favor of the STATIC’s ‘high’ risk flag.”

          My response:

          Google “labeling theory.” You bring up a good point that when the Static-99R labels people as “high” risk, the state might actually be causing people, through subconscious means, to recidivate at a higher rate. Of course, the state could care less if their “high” risk labeling causes recidivism, just as the “sex offender” label may cause recidivism, as it would only prove them (and the sleazy Karl Hanson) “right.” Also, this was posted by someone else a few months ago. It is a judge’s order that says that Hanson’s co-developer, David Thornton, failed to disclose Static-99R data after he initially agreed to provide the data. So the Static-99R “developers” do not even honor their promises:

          FYI, the developers to the Static-99R are R. Karl Hanson, Amy Phenix, Yolanda Fernandez, Andrew J. R. Harris, Maaike Helmus, and David Thornton. IMO, these “doctors” should be shamed from their profession. You are right; they have done damage to due process rights. No *real* doctor would ever harm a person’s rights.

  4. AJ

    This was a tough video to watch, solely due to the outlandish statements by Marci Hamilton. Wow. She seems to believe Nasser is the center of the bell curve, not the outlier, and is definitely one of the hair-on-fire people we need to counter. Good job, Emily Horowitz!
    Marci Hamilton: “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they’re 18. That is a statistic that is confirmed again and again and again.”
    Thank you for confirming that RC laws are ineffective.
    Paraphrasing: “To be on a registry, you have to have been convicted.”
    Thank you for confirming it’s based purely on conviction, meaning it’s retributive (i.e. punitive).
    “You know what would be really great? To say there’s no recidivism.”
    No sh!t, Sherlock. Name a crime where that wouldn’t be great! What an asinine statement.
    Ms. Hamilton comes across as a mean, angry person who will not entertain anything outside what she “knows” to be true, studies be damned. (I got a chuckle when Ms. Horowitz said to her, “that’s rude.”) I wonder what she thinks about Snyder and Muniz, given her allegiance to constitutionality.

    • New Person

      Marci is using her personal interactions to guide her. She’s using a micro view. So micro that she’s incapable of delineating between pre-conviction and post conviction.

      So scare tactic is Marci’s MO. When a different group of registrants kill children, they’re not subjected to the registry. Why? B/c sex offenders are scary monsters.

      Yet, here’s Emily with her resources from several different noted researchers, including state information about post conviction data.
      1. The registry doesn’t affect recidivism rates. This according to NJ and others when recorded 10 years before and 10 years after the implementation of the registry.

      2. The recidivism rates of registrants are among the lowest of all conviction groups (save murders, but that wasn’t identified.. probably for PR reasons in the debate).

      3. No matter how hard registrants try to re-integrate, they’re ostracized. Marci wants the 1 million gone. Registrants are being killed because they’re on the registry. A guy with a PHd can only work in a coffee shop. Florida banishes its registrants to live under a bridge. etc…

      Re-integration is the best solution for preventing recidivism. That’s for any convicted group. So why isn’t there a registration from all the other convicts? In CA, it used to do it for mobs, but CA courts ruled that unconstitutional. Yet, it applied it to sex offenders (mainly for gay people). Then it just stuck.

    • David Kennerly, A Risk To Whom?

      We need to do even better, though. It would be wonderful if there were, amongst us, a researcher who would plumb the depths of the literature and create a body of citations and spreadsheets, talking points, develop arguments, etc. that would be available to Emily or Lenore or Janice or anyone else who goes up against the likes of Marci Hamilton (“THEY DON’T AGE OUT, THEY DON’T AGE OUT!!). We need to compile the data ourselves and develop a comprehensive reference tool that is there at the touch of a finger. We need a “quant.”

      • TS

        Have to wonder if @AJ has a running log of what you are thinking of @David Kennerly. Many references pass through here daily that are useful and usable to others in discussions or even court pursuits such as @mike r has done.

        @mike r’s docs are a nice repository of citations to reference which is something he has made available to those here (understand he did a lot of research too as have others, e.g. AJ, Lake County, Chris F, et al).

        • AJ

          Though I don’t keep any list of quotes and such, I do have some case law and legal papers saved and categorized. Beyond that, it creeps out of the gray matter now and again.

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          TS, AJ is clearly one of those whose legal acumen would be valuable as part of a group resource as would Mike’s whose knowledge has been gained through hands-on application.

          I need to stress, though, that it is not just the law and court cases that we need to be putting into a useful framework. See my other post regarding this immediately before this one.

      • LostandDevastated


        In my past life I was a data scientist/quant

        • AJ

          That seems like a highly salable skill. Maybe start freelancing some analysis on financial websites (even in comment sections) under a pseudonym. If/When your analysis starts hitting, people will start caring less about your past, and more about how you can make them richer.

          There’s gotta be a gig or job out there that lets you work as an independent contractor. (Many RCs find being an IC the only way to go.)

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          And you could be again, this time for affecting surprisingly large positive transformations and to lasting effect 🙂 But seriously, our movement needs ‘keepers-of-fact,’ archivists of truth, legal scholars and historians, analysts and score-keepers, rhetoricians, human sexuality scholars and human rights (which includes children’s rights) advocates and yes, statisticians and quants. I would like for a group of us to discuss these urgent and varied needs for our movement in the realization that talented and motivated lawyers are not enough, even if they are essential and we are rightly exultant that they have now appeared on the scene. Besides, our lawyers cannot possibly know or remember every legal element that might make a difference in their cases. Can we now get this ball rolling? AJ, Chris, Tim Moore, “Lost” and others too numerous for me to remember?

        • LostandDevastated


          This might be something I’m interested in doing.

        • ML

          @David Kennerly
          I have posted more than once the need for a non-profit to access Watson, the IBM super computer. This computer not only has access to all of the case law on the books in the US but can also “think” with regard to strategies that would be most beneficial to pursue successful appeals. It couldn’t hurt.

        • Tim Moore

          I’m into this. I can do a few hours simple drudge work per week. I am not an expert in any of those things you mention. We can’t use this site for organizing, we have to email, Skype, DM whatever. Also, kind of living, I am still interested in a cooperative. I am just throwing that out there, because we may be the only two thinking along those lines.

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          Lost, ML, and Tim: Shoot me an email and we can talk. Email or Skype are fine with me.

      • AJ

        Though one may not (assuming the premise) “age out,” one certainly does “time out.” There’s a big difference, which Screaming Marci doesn’t grasp.

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          Well, I think it is clear that many people clearly do “age-out” of libido. Whether that’s good or not it is clear, for many, the case.

        • David Kennerly, Bull-Splatter Analyst

          Correction: “Whether that’s good or not it is clearly, for many, the case.”

  5. T

    They should do a debate about the IML.

    • AJ

      Rep. Smith versus whom?


      Any barnyard animal will suffice. He will lose in any and all debates. Notice how after IML was fraudulently passed, there has not been any mention made of it? Silence = ignorance. Out of sight. Out of mind.

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