In October, the Supreme Court heard a case that was painfully ironic, considering the Kavanaugh hearings the nation had just been subjected to: a challenge to the United States’ extremely restrictive sex offender registry laws.
While opinions on the case Gundy v. United States, which challenges the Attorney General’s ability to retroactively impose registry requirements, have yet to come out, debate around sex offender registries is particularly important in the wake of #metoo.
Established in the ‘90s following several high-profile rapes and murders of children, the sex offender registry used parental grief to propagate “tough on crime” policies. Registries were initially framed as mechanisms to protect children from sexual abuse by imposing severe and often lifelong housing, work, and even internet restrictions on people found guilty of sexual violence. The public nature of the registry was intended to help parents protect their children against “sexual predators” in their communities. Today, sex offender registries include people convicted of a wide range of sex-related offenses and even some non-sexual ones, from public urination to rape. Full Opinion Piece