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Should the Sex Offender Registry Be Abolished? A Live Debate.

Watch Sociologist Emily Horowitz vs. Marci Hamilton of CHILD USA at the Soho Forum.

Should the sex offender registry be abolished? Watch a live debate at the Soho Forum between Emily Horowitz, a sociologist at St. Francis College, and Marci Hamilton from the University of Pennsylvania and CHILD USA. Drop questions in the Facebook comments, and we'll read aloud a few of the best at the event.

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.

  • Libertymike||

    Yes, right after affirmative action, set asides, welfare, housing subsidies, racial norming, the Congressional Black Caucus, and demands for social justice, inclusion, and reparations.

  • Tony||

    Sorry, I'm not sure if we got the point, could you be racist a little louder?

  • Moo Cow||

    /yawn.

  • Eidde||

    Hey, the 9th Circuit just declared a constitutional right to commit adultery, and the people at Volokh are discussing it.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Which is worse, Eddie, pre-marital sex or adultery?

  • Eidde||

    Which one is singled out for denunciation in the Decalogue?

  • Agammamon||

    Given that its a contractual violation it should never have been a crime to begin with, so . . . good on them.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, "for the children" never motivates legislatures.

  • lap83||

    Drop questions in the Facebook comments, and we'll read aloud a few of the best at the event.

    Best Facebook comment? That's about as high a bar as being the suavest sex offender

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Leave Robby out of this.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Oh, "suavest," not "Soavest." Nm.

  • stellukomi||

  • oncefallendotcom||

    Marci was terrible speaker. She didn't do anything but play the appeals to emotion card. It was like watching a Madden Football Let's Play when one player does the same play every snap. The victim industry needs a better playbook. Marci sucked so bad tonight, the Cleveland Browns plan on wasting a draft pick on her.

  • donttrustthepress||

    I would have liked Hamilton to answer the following:

    1) If the registry is about public and child safety, what does Nasser and Sandusky have to do with the purported "need" for the registry? They're in prison for life; how are they a threat to the public?

    2) How does the registry prevent the Nassers and Sanduskys of the world from having multiple victims if the crimes are never reported?

    3) If an accusation alone (even years after the fact) is sufficient to establish that an assault took place, how does one protect him/herself from false accusations?

    4) What exactly is one supposed to do if identifying a registrant and remain law abiding, and how does it differ from the caution that should (theoretically) apply to all strangers and unknown individuals?

    Keep in mind the debate was supposed to be about whether or not the registry should be abolished. I admit I'm biased on the subject, but Hamilton's lamenting unreported offenses and child porn doesn't strike me as very persuasive about the need to maintain the sex offender registry.

  • Yudoka||

    Really the only question that needs to be asked for the proponents of the registry is to show data, any data, that the registry actually prevents crimes. They won't because they can't. In fact, they'll run into data that shows exactly the opposite as the registry increases crime either by vigilantism against people on the registry or pushing registered people into crime such as theft due to lack of employment and housing directly caused by the registry.

    Using people like Nasser and Sandusky is also faulty as well over 95% of sexual offenses are committed by people not on the registry. Given what can and has placed people on the registry, if an honest survey was conducted of our entire population, I'd wager nearly 100% of people would technically be a sex offender. Did you ever have sex with someone under the legal age even if you were under the legal age yourself? If yes, then in at least some states you're a sex offender. Did you ever take and/or send a nude selfie while you were under age? If so, in at least some states you're a sex offender. Did you ever expose your genitalia to non family members even if you were a preteen? If so, you're a sex offender in some states (some states have kids as young as 8 on the registry, and its not because they're the second coming of the Antichrist). You'd honestly be hard pressed to find anyone not "guilty" of any of these things.

  • AnonymousRSO||

    The problem with the sex offender registry is that it focuses your attention on people like me, who didn't even commit the offense I was forced through prosecutorial misconduct to take a plea bargain for, and lulls you into a false sense of security that your children are protected from Uncle Chester somehow.

    Also, how many children do you think are killed by drunk drivers every year? And how many are killed by pedophiles? Don't you think that if it were REALLY just about parents knowing who lives in the neighborhood, we might want to have a drunk driver registry? I know I'd like to know if there were some alcoholic who is much more likely to kill my kid than a pedophile we're living in my neighborhood.

    Why stop there? Why not a convicted murderer registry, a Catholic priest registry, and maybe an ice cream truck driver registry? You can see how this irrational, emotion-based argument can go on ad absurdem.

    We need a criminal justice system built on rehabilitation and restitution. The one we have now, which is based purely on retribution, is a disgusting holdover from medieval times, and a dismal failure.

  • Yudoka||

    I believe statistically speaking, a person is about 10 times more likely to be affected by a repeat DUI driver than with a sex offense by someone on the registry.

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