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Emily Horowitz: The Real Monsters – Sex offender registries don’t make us any safer. Abolishing them would.

Source: 6/3/22

Watching the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, I was struck by how Republican senators pounced on the judge’s thoughtful, considered, and mainstream sex offense sentencing. My research examines why our sex offense policies are based on fear-driven myths and how excessive criminal-legal responses do not genuinely and effectively address sexual violence — and do create new harm. And at the time, based on this knowledge, I wrote about the spectacle, where politicians like Josh Hawley accused Jackson of “endangering our children” and not “protecting the most vulnerable,” while those voting in her favor were branded “pro-pedophile” by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The message was clear: Supporting sex offense policy as it exists on the books is the same as supporting sexual violence, not caring for children, and, as in Salem, the equivalent of being someone who sexually offends.

Since 1994, ostensibly in the name of public safety, legislators passed sweeping federal, state, and local laws imposing onerous requirements and restrictions on people who have completed sentences for sex-offense convictions. On pain of further punishment and incarceration, these provisions require their names’ inscription on registries easily consultable by the public, notification of their moving into a new community, and restrictions on residency, travel, work, and presence. In practice, these burdens fail to reduce recidivism while subjecting those on them to never-ending state surveillance; even after sentence completion, not adhering to the myriad of complex and ever-changing rules, such as failure to update personal information to law enforcement, can result in reincarceration. An example: A 62-year-old, last convicted of a sex offense in 1989, and off probation since the mid-1990s with no sexual re-offense, received two years in prison for failing to update his registration in 2020.

For almost three decades, the Sex-Offender Registration and Notification Act, also known as SORNA, has subjected millions with sex-offense convictions to a period or even a lifetime of being openly named, shamed, and essentially banished from society.

As I argue here, and in greater detail in my forthcoming book, From Rage to Reason: Why We Need Sex Crime Laws Based on Facts, Not Fear, the experiences of those convicted of sex offenses starkly reveal what happens when our society gets drunk on punishment. In my work, I focus exclusively on the post-sentence, public, and specialized punishments to which those convicted of sex offenses are subject. I do not question the need for them to be held accountable or to be prosecuted in the criminal legal system. Those decisions have their place, but they are not the focus of my work. What I address, instead, is the enhanced and extraordinary civil and criminal punishments for this group of people beyond the already extensive range of collateral consequences faced by others with criminal histories.

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Bless her heart.
I hope the book sells. Unfortunately, what is embedded is just that.
They will fight to the death to defend it, and its unfettered use.

LeitosLaw on YT
addressed something interesting in the Right to Repair bills being thwarted by big tech firms in California. The same sector responsible for the registries development very early in the internet age.

Kudos to ACSOL board member Emily Horowitz for speaking the truth in this insightful article! Looking forward to reading your new book, Emily, so that I can read even more about the results of your research.

Yes, registered citizens are ideal for scammers who thrive on the fears of their victims. Where else can you find the only class of people constantly at the mercy of ruthless and out-of-control laws bent on stripping them of their rights without notification or due process? And who can be arrested almost at a whim?
Is it any wonder that a system that posts all of their public information including their address, phone #, and criminal history lends itself to anyone with evil intentions. Ironically, police will seldom notify registrars when they learn of these types of scams.
Common sense helps avoid scams but because the registry operates outside of logic and because the registrant’s rights are subject to interpretation, it’s easy to get caught up in a web of deceit by anyone posing as an officer of the law.

From the article:

 They’re merely a punitive tool of social control that subjects millions to cruelty and harm that then spreads to their families and communities. Denying so many people an opportunity to be a part of our polity and a chance to thrive, while paying lip service to a carceral notion of public safety, disserves the rest of us. 

Ms Horowitz sums it best. The registry is a punitive tool of social control, which the SCOTUS labels administrative. It still is a punitive tool after one has paid their debts to society.

Great article! I love reading articles that cite SCOTUS used incorrect data upon his decision. This needs to be repeated often in all registry related articles to show how the registry is a punitive tool of social control that disregards the science of recidivism.

Janice wait just a minute. While I was going to comment on one of Emily’s post in her surveys I have to say “Safer” – Safer from who? Which one is the who So if the who answers the question than what about the …… what when where, and how understandings of method or should be addressed? Is all this registry about character or should one ask themselves that very question .. To give an example….

 Who was safe when a mob stormed the White House a few years ago? What instigated the ordeal? When did it all take place. Where was it. I’m sure it all transpired at the White House in D.C Why did it all come about? And how was it presented? I would say the presentation was a bit kayotic in that riot that happened. The how was thru a speech and TV media and its basically the same as internet media. Those are the questions that should be answered wouldn’t you agree.

Safety is good if it has good measures to it. Compelling one with a sexual enticement is like the devil seducing another. Even the bringing of paraphernalia, got any pictures when the underlining intent was to “Force or Compel one to come down to some house or other area is a bit over the top for any law enforcement officer. One could say who’s holding a gun to who in this registry drama. This whole internet thing is a bit dicey and chancy. Thats why listening is the key and understanding is the most important issue in much of this registry ruse.Hey I don’t care if your an adult or a child you are still a child or whether your poor or a bit more resourseful one still has a right to speak up and voice out.

Their are pro’s and con’s to everything Janice and much of this registry is a con even with this “Blacklisting” some with the sex label is very shady. How many were blacklisted out in CA back in the early 19 hundreds…How many people were listed back in the day? This registry is a bit more than a blacklist. So is American Justice self abusing American Justice even taking liberties that are so vain.

Here’s a woman who gets it.

Well if you want to sell the public on this just tell them the fact that Germany doesn’t have a registry at all, and by all objective measures it’s a perfectly safe country. No child rapists lurking around every corner there after all.

I am convinced that when our country decided to ignore the constitution and inflict the SOR on it’s citizens, many times retroactively; that was the beginning of the end of our country. Compare the dates to when our country started going down hill to the beginning of the SOR. …

The Rehnquist Court’s failure to uphold court authority and duty to reject plain ex post language use by congress was a grave error. They reap what they sow by upholding vindictiveness. Let them suffer it.

Suspect killed former Wisconsin judge lawmakers hit list

Watched the video mentioned in the article, and I was shocked by the attitude of a certain commissioner. When the day of judgement comes, we’ll see who is invited and who is excluded, and boy will he be surprised! Being banned from the community in a little meaningless county in FL is nothing compared to where he’ll be banned from for his proud, merciless, cruelty. Good luck buddy!

To those who had the courage to testify in that meeting, I pray God blesses you for your willingness to put yourself on the line. It will be rewarded!

I listened to her on the “Registry Matters” Podcast live from the NARSOL conference. She is a very smart woman, and I hope she can shed more light on the injustice registrants and their families face every day. One point that has been made again is the debate she had with (can’t think of the woman’s name), and that woman said that 3% recidivism is still too much since it is not 0%. Why does nobody ask her what the percentage is of newly committed crimes by someone NOT on the registry? Since that is obviously not 0% either, we seem to have a problem here. Nothing will ever be 0%, with or without a registry. Besides, there are a ton of other crimes that might harm a child, so her reasoning of it wanting to be 0% is absurd and completely illogical or attainable.

If you have had a chance to talk with Dr. Horowitz for her research, good on you. If you have not, then see if you can. I was able to discuss with her topics she wanted to know more about very easily. The more she has, the merrier.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x