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March 9, 2017
"Shaming the Constitution: The Detrimental Results of Sexual Violent Predator Legislation"
The title of this post is the title of this notable new book authored by Michael Perlin and Heather Ellis Cucolo which provides a fitting follow-up to prior posts in this space this week concerning problems with sex offender recidivism data and expanding use of crime registries. Via the publisher's website, here is a summary of the book's coverage:
Convicted sexually violent predators are more vilified, more subject to media misrepresentation, and more likely to be denied basic human rights than any other population. Shaming the Constitution authors Michael Perlin and Heather Cucolo question the intentions of sex offender laws, offering new approaches to this most complex (and controversial) area of law and social policy.
The authors assert that sex offender laws and policies are unconstitutional and counter-productive. The legislation largely fails to add to public safety-even ruining lives for what are, in some cases, trivial infractions. Shaming the Constitution draws on law, behavioral sciences, and other disciplines to show that many of the "solutions" to penalizing sexually violent predators are "wrong," as they create the most repressive and useless laws.
In addition to tracing the history of sex offender laws, the authors address the case of Jesse Timmendequas, whose crime begat "Megan's Law;" the media's role in creating a "moral panic;" recidivism statistics and treatments, as well as international human rights laws. Ultimately, they call attention to the flaws in the system so we can find solutions that contribute to public safety in ways that do not mock Constitutional principles.
March 9, 2017 at 10:07 PM | Permalink
Thankful someone's come out with a book with new, corrected facts. Maybe supreme court judges will no longer keep going back to old 1986 Psychology Today articles to get their information.
Posted by: kat | Mar 10, 2017 10:02:18 AM
It's a wonder that the laws that we have passed over the last 25 years dealing with former sex offenders/predators have not yet had a radicalizing effect on those men and women subject to these restrictive (and unconstitutional) laws. You have had individual instances of former sex offenders venting their frustrations on these laws by targeting individual prosecutors, police officers, and other officials for murder or threats thereof. In Michigan a former sex offender shot a judge when he was arrested for failing to register. In Savannah, GA, a former sex offender was charged with making a terroristic threat to a police station's sex offender registry.
So far, however, no collective efforts to my knowledge have occurred where groups of sex offenders who have served their time have banded together like the Black Panthers, the Stonewall gays, the Attica insurrectionists, etc. in launching legal, civil disobedience, or outright violent tactics against those who instigate and enforce these laws.
It could happen in the future, though. Nobody ever suspected that northern ghetto blacks would riot until 1965 when Watts blew up. Nobody thought that supposedly meek gays and lesbians would ever rise up as a group in violent opposition to their persecution until the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Nobody thought that supposedly servile and submissive black inmates would stage a radical uprising until 1971 when Attica broke out.
These laws which are supposedly meant to protect the public could actually endanger the public. I have two scenarios where police enforce residential restrictions and curfews:
1. The first scenario would be the accidental killing by a former sex offender of a police officer during, say a Halloween curfew. The former sex offender inside his or her home with the porch lights out, might mistake the police officer who checks on the house for a burglar or vigilante and use a rifle or pistol (even if these firearms are illegal for former felons)to shoot dead whom they thought was a prowler only to learn that they unwittingly killed a police officer while simply defending their property.
2. Scenario two would involve a deliberate revenge killing of a police officer by a former sex offender who is fed up with police coming to his or her home without a warrant on Halloween, and decides to booby-trap the home with the intention of killing the officer. That former sex offender might think: "Well, I have served my time and continue to have to comply with degrading post-sentence laws that deprive me of equal protection. So, I have nothing to lose any more by taking out a law officer. I don't care if I get the electric chair for this."
Thus, these laws under the right circumstances could put our law enforcement personnel and our lawmakers at needless risk when they deprive one who has served his or her time from becoming a productive citizen once again.
Posted by: william r. delzell | Mar 10, 2017 10:16:26 AM
"and more likely to be denied basic human rights than any other population."
Oh come on....we are a country that believes ideologically in civil rights, not human rights. Human rights and civil rights are diametrically opposed perspectives and to make a paean to human rights in a civil rights society is an exercise in futility.
Posted by: Daniel | Mar 10, 2017 11:24:41 AM
I wonder if Geoffrey Stone's new book on "Sex and the Constitution" covers this some.
Posted by: Joe | Mar 10, 2017 11:28:46 AM
Women obtained suffrage after making a lot of money from inheritances from their robber baron fathers, and after filling factory jobs during WWI. Homosexuals won their rights after homosexual billionaires began their campaigns. The promotion of bastardy became the national standard after the rich feminists took control of our government.
William, other sex offenders will win their rights after they become rich, and pay the politicians for them. Polygamy, polyamory, pedophilia, bestiality, robotophilia. There is no limit to the perversions that will be protected, privileged, and empowered once lawyers get their money.
Animals will get civil standing if they inherit the estates of their dead masters, and get their lobbying going.
Naturally, lawyer employment comes as a priority for each progressive step in entitlement.
Posted by: David Behar | Mar 10, 2017 11:34:17 AM
To David Behar:
To set the record straight, I oppose violent sex offences, especially against children and the weak. My point is once a person has served his or her time, he or she should not be subject to the type of restrictive laws that totalitarian countries like Stalinist Russia and the Nazi Third Reich imposed on classes of people they despised. Those totalitarian regimes started out targeting former sex offenders before extending their web to Jews, pacifists, labor organizers, religious dissidents, political activists, etc.
If a man or woman commits a sex offense against another person, especially a child, he or she should be punished severely. But, when the punishment ends, it is supposed to do exactly that: end. If these offenders deserve life imprisonment, then the prosecutors should have prescribed it at the outset instead of waiting until the expiration of their sentence to add new ex post facto punishment.
Try to be an American, Behar!
Posted by: william r. delzell | Mar 10, 2017 5:17:27 PM
DB is a sort of performance art.
Posted by: Joe | Mar 10, 2017 7:31:10 PM
Joe. I hope you join me in supporting all 543 ways people can love. I find the term LGBTQ highly offensive. It is elitist, and discriminatory against the other 538 ways people can love. They are such snobs.
Posted by: David Behar | Mar 10, 2017 8:26:01 PM
Mr. Delzell, I agree with you that sex offenses against children should be punished severely. What about those individuals that find images and videos of these crimes on the internet? Free images and videos, with no warnings. Should these individuals who have harmed no one be punished with years of imprisonment, a felony record, and on a public registry for a lifetime?
Posted by: tommyc | Mar 10, 2017 10:46:07 PM
any chance this will be made available in a Kindle edition?
Posted by: Registered Citizen | Mar 10, 2017 11:27:19 PM
Shaming the Constitution
Tell the Publisher!
I'd like to read this book on Kindle
Posted by: George | Mar 10, 2017 11:35:27 PM
@ registered citizen:
On the linked webpage it says that there will be an ebook version available. Even if not purchased through Amazon, you should be able to sideload it using a program like Calibre
Posted by: Guy | Mar 11, 2017 9:37:34 AM
william r. delzell humanity has been corrupted, the judicial system and the many, many attorney's learning corporate law and not the Law of the land has ruined America for Americans. It looks like you are aware of this and how things have changed for profit. Women have learned how to use the system and their children (some for survival) against man. Many men deserve what they get but not forever, justice is supposed to rehabilitate a person from their ways but to punish a person (mankind) for the rest of their lives is cruel and inappropriate behavior by our society. Many people and the justice system are aware that innocent people have been imprisoned and that is against our American values. Families have been torn apart for the breaking of the 9th Commandment. Nothing worst then a liar, hard to defend yourself against lies and the justice system knows this.
Posted by: LC in Texas | Mar 11, 2017 12:09:44 PM
If a person was not warned that whatever he or she downloaded had child pornography inside it until only after he or she downloaded it too late, then no. That person who did not know beforehand that any images or videos that he or she downloaded contained such stuff should not be punished. The prosecutors should be required to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that such a person DID have such bad intentions. If the prosecutor cannot prove deliberate intent on the part of the computer user, then that person should be found innocent. Prosecutors who attempt to KNOWINGLY implicate a person whom the prosecutors could not prove had deliberate intent should be severely punished for gross prosecutorial misconduct. We should throw the books at such prosecutors just as we should throw the book at somebody who deliberately harms a child.
Posted by: william r. delzell | Mar 11, 2017 12:11:10 PM
Mr. Delzell, I take your response to mean that all those who view child pornography, who have not harmed anyone should therefore be found innocent of criminal intent because there are no warnings for this offense. What is your definition of "deliberate intent" when, again, there are no warnings for this offense, and no monetary exchange was made to view/download this material?
Posted by: tommyc | Mar 11, 2017 2:10:03 PM
You misunderstand me. What I meant is if somebody is looking for something that has nothing to do with child pornography and they somehow ACCIDENTALLY access it, and especially if there was no monetary exchange involved, that person should not be viewed as guilty of accessing that stuff or of trying to access same. However, if they intentionally accessed it, particularly if they did with money involved and used it to target children, then yes, they should be punished to the full extent of the law.
What really gets me was an incident where a woman who worked for the Tea Party forced her little children to perform despicable and perverted sex acts with adult men and women customers who paid this woman to come to her house to abuse her children for this woman's monetary gain and sick mind. Now, if this woman really forced her children to do this, and if adult customers actually came over to her apartment to perform these sordid acts on helpless children, then this woman and her adult customers deserve the maximum penalty under law. Such crimes should never be tolerated. I bring up this incident because this particular woman and the Tea Party for whom she worked pretends to be for victims' rights. In her case, she turned out to be a predator of the worst type instead of a protector of our most vulnerable victims--our children.
I like the way you right-wingers put words into the mouths of those who disagree with you!
Posted by: william r. delzell | Mar 11, 2017 6:13:16 PM
In my opinion: With so much "Intelligence", why haven't the ones that put porn on the internet been punished? I am truthfully sick of seeing it pop up. Help stop these sick people! I have rights too and they are being violated on television and the Internet. Porn and foul language are not Rights!
Posted by: LC in Texas | Mar 13, 2017 5:11:51 PM
william r. delzell | Mar 10, 2017 10:16:26 AM:
The S*x Offender Registries (SORs) have radicalized a good percentage of the people who are listed on them. I would say that it has radicalized nearly 100% of the listed people to some degree at least.
You gave some examples yourself. And although I don't track such things at all, I know for certain that at least 2 innocent children have been murdered in direct retaliation for the SORs (Christopher Barrios (6 yo) and Melinda Hinson (13 yo)). I don't have the slightest doubt that there have been more. I also don't have the slightest doubt that a lot of crimes, including s*x crimes, are being committed because the SORs exist, that would not be if the SORs did not exist. I think the SORs are really, really idiotic social policy.
But what do I know? I just see the actual, real effects of the SORs in actual reality. Evidently I'm not as all-knowing as the criminal legislators who support these laws based on their lies and that they are "common sense".
You said, "These laws which are supposedly meant to protect the public could actually endanger the public." I don't have any doubt at all that the laws create more danger to the public than they could ever hope to prevent.
You described some elaborate scenarios how a listed person might retaliate. It can obviously be a lot more simple than that. A listed person can just decide one day that they have had enough and they start murdering people. I read a very recent article about a couple of Registered people who just murdered people (http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170307/theodore-decker-sex-offenders-prison-treatment-records-should-be-open-to-public). I fully expect that the SORs contributed to those crimes. Perhaps they were even the primary cause.
I have been radicalized by the SORs. I am a COMPLETELY different person because of them. A couple of decades ago I was very supportive of government and law enforcement. The SORs ended that for me. You can firmly count me in the "F the police" group today. I wouldn't help them with ANYTHING even if my life depended on it. Same with government or anyone who supports any of them.
I was listed on the SORs for perhaps a few years or so before I came to understand that the SORs are not really for "public safety", "protecting children", or any of those other lies. I realized pretty quickly that their primary purpose was to harm me, my spouse, and my children. My children were attacked all the time. So it only took me about 5 years or so to realize that the SORs are actually an act of war. And the millions of people who support them are not Americans and they are my enemies for whom I need not have any particular concern.
I promised myself that I would ensure that, at least with respect to me, that the SORs did nothing useful and the opposite of what their supposed purpose was. I promised myself that I would go out of my way to live a successful, normal life, be around random children all the time, and have close relationships with hundreds of people who would have no idea that I was listed on an SOR. I promised myself that I would do anything legal to retaliate for the mere existence of the SORs. I promised myself that for any harm that the SORs caused me that I would retaliate at at least a magnitude of that level. I promised myself that, because the SORs exist every day, that I would set up infrastructure that would cost the criminal governments every day and harm the people who support them every day. And I made all that happen.
And I'm going to keep making it happen. The criminal regimes that have the SORs lost their war a very long time ago. But they are too stupid to know it and too arrogant and hateful to care.
Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Mar 16, 2017 2:56:25 PM
The SOR definitely changes people.
You learn to trust no one. You don't trust the knock at the door, you don't trust the men/women in blue, you don't trust the government that encourages this tool of lifetime punishment and banishment to exsist.
You take care of yourself, your family, and that's it.
What a wonderful world, right?
Posted by: kat | Mar 17, 2017 9:50:03 AM
I agree with the two respondents from March 16th and 17th. I am glad to see that somebody else in this blog is finally addressing this issue of how these restrictions on former sex offenders who have served their time actually breeds distrust toward all law enforcement personnel. We all agree that this distrust has already had some blow-back against law enforcement. One would think that at least some high level law enforcement personnel and a few far-sighted politicians (an extremely rare breed indeed) would have enough sense to launch a full-level attack against these stupid laws. Who in law enforcement would want to knowingly endanger their fellow law enforcement personnel with a stupid law just to help some politician score points with voters as being "tough" on crime that simply makes former criminals even more dangerous than before to authority?
Posted by: william r., delzell | Mar 17, 2017 10:56:57 AM
kat | Mar 17, 2017 9:50:03 AM:
Exactly right. It is not wonderful world. It is an awful, hateful world and almost every single person in it has an evil core. The vast majority of people in the U.S. are only decent because it is convenient for them. And it makes them feel good. The second anything gets difficult, their true being takes over.
I see the election of Trump as just a continuing expansion of the Registry mind set. It's all just evil hatred. He may be a talented executive (and of course that is quite debatable) but at his heart, he's shown he's a pile of crap. The U.S. deserves the division that he promotes. They deserve the chaos, they deserve the hate. I'm all for letting it grow. Let's get on with it. I'm going to thrive.
I remember way back right as the Registry stupidity was just getting going and there was some charity group (in Texas, I believe) that was in the middle of a huge scandal because the media and others had "found out" that some of the charity work that they had done on homes for poor people included a Registered person's home. The charity said something equivalent to, "We assure you, we've taken steps to ensure that this won't happen again." That was 1 of 100+ pivotal events that sealed it for me.
It wasn't long after I started Registering that I said "F these people." I used to do regular charity work and contribute to charities. I stopped all of that. I used to give blood as often as I could. I haven't done that for 15 years. I even canceled my organ donation. That is just part of the passive things that I did. Then I got aggressive and made it a business and a hobby. I've gotten better and better at it. I got successful and rich. Today, IF I allow evil people who support the Registries to work for me or live where I own, I will only do it to exploit them. They aren't people after all. I'm a lot like Trump.
Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Mar 17, 2017 4:43:19 PM