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"All Sex Offender Registries Should Be Abolished": Debate, 2/12

Tomorrow's Soho Forum/Reason debate asks whether well-intentioned laws to protect victims do more harm than good.

Soho ForumSoho Forum

Do sex offender registries keep predators like serial child molester Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, from becoming abusers—or do the laws actually do more harm than good?

"All the laws requiring those convicted of sex offenses to put their names in a registry should be abolished."

That's the highly controversial resolution that will be argued at the next Soho Forum/Reason debate, on Monday, February 12 at New York's Subculture Theater.

Emily Horowitz will argue the affirmative position. She is professor and chair of the sociology and criminal justice department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, where she founded a program that helps the formerly incarcerated complete college.

Marci A. Hamilton will take the negative. She is Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Soho Forum is a monthly Oxford-style debate, meaning that the audience votes before and after the proceedings and the debater who has moved the most people in her direction is the winner. Soho Forum co-founder Gene Epstein will moderate one of the most-controversial subjects imaginable. Reason is proud to sponsor the Soho Forum, which is held monthly. Each debate is also live-streamed at Reason's Facebook page and here at Reason.com. Go here for a full archive. To listen to an audio podcast version of the Soho Forum, subscribe to the Reason Podcast at iTunes.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. General admission is $18 and student rate is $10. For this debate, you can bring a friend for free. See details here.

"All the laws requiring those convicted of sex offenses to put their names in a registry should be abolished."

Mon, February 12, 2018

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EST

Subculture Theater

45 Bleecker St

New York, New York 10012

View Map

Cash bar opens: 5:45pm

Meeting convenes: 6:30pm

Wine-and-cheese Reception: 8:15pm

Tickets must be reserved in advance.

Watch the most recent debate: "Is Selfishness a Virtue, featuring Yaron Brook and Gene Epstein, and moderated by Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Dan S.||

    The description of Ms. Hamilton, arguing against the motion, contains the name "Fox" no less than three times. As in Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century-Fox? Should movie studios or media conglomerates really be the sponsors of professorships or "Leadership Programs" at our Universities?

  • Eidde||

    Unclean! Unclean! (rends garments)

  • Rich||

    "All Sex Offender Registries Should Be Abolished": Debate, 2/12

    "Sex Offense Allegation Registries Should Be Established": Debate, 4/1

  • John's broseph||

    Yes sex offender registries should be abolished, along with petty crimes like sleeping with a 17 year old when a person is 18.

    That being said the true sex offenders, the ones that people think of when they think of a sex offender, should be castrated as a condition of their release. I think this is a reasonable compromise.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Do we have a murder registry or do we leave them lead anonymous lives after they serve their sentence? Why is this different? Because sex?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Think about it... Your new neighbor with the extremely short fuse and history of violence? Probably the worst he will do is nurse a grudge over that pumpkin patch you have going and decide to tackle you and break a couple ribs next time you're mowing the grass.

    But if they let someone who, a couple decades ago, continued his relationship with his then girlfriend after he turned 18 and she was still just 17, move near you without you knowing about it so you can make sure to only let your kids walk from the house to the car under cover of darkness, the level of risk would be just too high!

  • damikesc||

    Reason supports doing away with sex offender registries. Grand. No issue with that.

    They also seem quite upset when a man doesn't lose a job immediately over allegations of wrong-doing.

    They seem inconsistent.

  • Cy||

    Now they can claim victory either way. Trump really is a pioneer in modern journalism.

  • JuanQPublic||

    The reasoning I've gathered is that the registry is federally mandated and a blunt instrument that doesn't reflect actual risk, is probably ineffective and could even make the problem worse, and is Constitutionally questionable, as the argument that it "isn't punitive" comes with a wink-wink.

    As for the public sphere and allegations in the media, some of their writers have contended that companies do this because public perception matters with a private company and that they have the right to do that. Agree that they can do that, but don't agree that it's fair in any way, shape or form, and is often hypocritical, irrational and lacks reason.

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