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August 12, 2020

"Blanket Exclusions, Animus, and the False Policies They Promote"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Catherine Carpenter now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

Saying something is true does not make it so. A nd saying it louder does not make it truer.  But such is the legislative posture behind modern day sex offense registration laws that punish those who commit sex crimes because of entrenched myths that overstate the laws’ positive impact on public safety and exaggerate recidivism rates of offenders.  And it is not only registration schemes themselves that have been scaffold-ed by these myths, but numerous ancillary laws that exclude benefits to offenders strictly because they have committed sex offenses.

Sadly, this sticky, but false, narrative has provided the animus that galvanized implementation of registration and notification regimes. And in its most recent chapter, the narrative has been formalized into blanket exclusions — or what this article calls “all except for” provisions — that have inserted into a myriad of criminal justice reform efforts without much notoriety.

The effect?  Registrants and their families have been prohibited from broad-based and important ameliorative changes to the carceral state, many to which they should be entitled, and to which they are denied only because of their status as registrants.  Indeed, within comprehensive legislation covering numerous crime and sentencing reforms, these ubiquitous blanket exclusions have the markings of boilerplate language that have been introduced even where the new legislation has no rational relationship to the protection of the public’s safety or the prior sex offense conviction.

This article examines the moral panic and false data used to buttress blanket exclusion provisions — their inflated importance obvious. It concludes that these measures, which are un-tethered to public safety concerns, and only supported by governmental and community animus, violate fourteenth amendment protections.

August 12, 2020 at 09:36 AM | Permalink


These particular laws also put police and other law enforcement officials at risk to their own safety. I can envision two types of scenarios to prove my point.

First, the accidental scenario where a former sex offender mistakes a police or parole officer for a prowler or a vigilante and decides to illegally obtain a weapon for the purpose of self-defense or to "stand one's ground."

Second, there is the deliberate scenario where the former sex offender wants to "even" the score by intentionally targeting police, prosecutors, judges, parole officers, etc. for revenge killing or revenge injury.

The results by these law, thus, do not insure public safety, but further endanger it.

Posted by: William R. Delzell | Aug 12, 2020 1:20:28 PM

Mr. Dezell,

Would it be appropriate to say that when government (federal, state, and local) ignores facts and statistics such as in the case of sex offender recidivism, it amounts to tyranny and oppression? Personally, I believe it does. With roughly 850,000 Americans on the registry, does this create a climate where RSO's will eventually take the law into their own hands?

Posted by: Oswaldo | Aug 17, 2020 11:18:30 AM

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