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On America’s Civil Death Penalty: The Sexual Offense Registry

Oscar Wilde, writing from his cell in the Reading Gaol where he was imprisoned for homosexuality at the end of the nineteenth century, observed that “society reserves for itself the right to inflict appalling punishments on the individual, but it also has the supreme vice of shallowness, and fails to realise what it has done. When the man’s punishment is over, it leaves him to himself; that is to say, it abandons him at the very moment when its highest duty towards him begins.”

In America, few aspects of law and policy so perfectly embody Wilde’s observation of punishment in nineteenth century England as sex offense registries. Full Guest Column

Guy Hamilton-Smith was a speaker at the 2018 ACSOL Conference last June.

Join the discussion

  1. Tim L

    Act3 Sc.3

    Good name man and woman, dear my lord;
    The immediate jewels of their souls.

    He who steal my purse steals trash. Is something yet nothing.
    ’twas mine, ’tis his and has been slave of thousands;

    But he who flitches from me my good name, robs me not of that which enriches him;
    and makes me poor indeed.

    W. Shakespeare

    Kinda says it all about SORNA, it’s efficacy and it’s costs

  2. steve

    Wow! Excellent article!

  3. Don’t tread on me

    I forwarded the link to this article to about 40 people. So eloquently stated…

  4. totally against public registry

    Wow, Guy! You always write powerful articles. Thanks and wish I knew how to share this with family and friends….

  5. wonderin

    “To offend, as an offender is something that you do.”

    ha ha …. Yes despite overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise, this is Not something I Did but rather something I Do and will continue to do given the slightest opportunity. Praise the Registry for saving me from myself for all the remaining days of my life. Hallelujah! ha ha (sarcasm intended)

  6. Matt

    What an extraordinary piece. Is there any chance we could get a PDF of this posted to this website, so we could distribute it to people? I struggle frequently with finding ways to describe to people what being on the registry is like. That article nails it.

    • AnotherAnon

      You can make a PDF of it.

      Click on print

      Save as PDF

      • totally against public registry

        I tried the PDF save and I could not retrieve it any where on my computer. I am not too savvy with electronics so it must be floating around some where in my computer….

        What I did was just copy the URL and I posted it to my Facebook account. Thanks

  7. AnotherAnon

    It could depend on your browser and its settings, but it was probably saved in your downloads folder, the default. But if you are happy with your result, that is good enough.

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