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April 18, 2008

A strong review of sex offender litigation in the states

Stateline.org has this effective new piece headlined "Lawsuits test crackdown on sex criminals."  The piece essentially previews the broad array of sex offender laws and issues that could be clogging up the dockets of lower courts (and perhaps also the Supreme Court) for years to come.  Here is an excerpt:

From California to North Carolina, a flood of litigation has accompanied an expansion in the scope and severity of penalties imposed by local, state and federal lawmakers on those who commit sex crimes.

Penalties for molesters and other sex criminals have toughened considerably in recent years and now include execution in at least five states, chemical castration in eight states and the use of technology to monitor offenders’ every move in more than half the states.

In some instances, punitive measures are limited only by lawmakers’ imaginations. In Louisiana, for example, a proposal being debated this legislative session would forbid offenders from wearing masks on Halloween or Mardi Gras.  In New Jersey, a new state law prevents molesters and others from surfing the Internet unless it is for work-related purposes; Florida and Nevada have similar laws.

The recent legal challenges take aim at laws that sex criminals say violate constitutional guarantees, including privacy, due process and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.  Supporters of the laws say they are necessary to protect children from predators who are capable of committing brutal crimes.

April 18, 2008 at 09:04 AM | Permalink


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» New Article at Stateline from Sex Crimes
Stateline has done a fantastic job covering sex offender law issues in the past. Here is the latest article by John Gramlich concerning crackdowns on sex offenders:From California to North Carolina, a flood of litigation has accompanied an expansion in [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 18, 2008 11:11:46 AM

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Commentary on Baze: SCOTUSblog has posted a commentary by our own Kent Scheidegger on what the Court's opinions in Baze will mean for the states as they look to implementing death sentences. The commentary states that in the wake of... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 18, 2008 7:50:57 PM


For my research paper on chemical castration I have spent a lot of time researching these challenges. The first wave of modern sex offender laws survived a host of challenges, but I think the more recent challenges are even more interesting. We've seen invocations of interstate travel rights, the spending clause, Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel, property rights, etc.

Chemical castration is actually a pretty interesting area, because there are a lot of issues involved that haven't been litigated at the appellate level in a meaningful way. There are eighth amendment concerns, due process concerns (substantive and procedural), equal protection concerns (some statutes, like CA's, authorizes only a form of chemical castration that has proven to be effective in men), etc.

Posted by: Alec | Apr 18, 2008 9:44:53 PM

Alec, if you are still working on the paper and need an historical perspective, you might find this interesting and helpful.

The Most Critical Option: Sex Offenses and Castration in San Diego, 1938-1975

Posted by: George | Apr 19, 2008 5:41:31 AM

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