Reason Podcast

Should We Abolish the Sex Offender Registry? A Debate.

Watch sociologist Emily Horowitz debate legal scholar Marci Hamilton at the Soho Forum.


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On February 12, 2018, Emily Horowitz debated Marci Hamilton about whether we should abolish the registry for convicted sex offenders. Horowitz is chair of the sociology and criminal justice department at St. Francis College, and Hamilton is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children.

The debate took place at the Soho Forum, which runs Oxford-style debates in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event. The side that gains more ground is victorious. ?In this case, Horowitz—who argued for abolition—won overwhelmingly by convincing 33 percent of the audience to switch over to her side.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, has a twofold mission: to provide an arena for intellectual adversaries to talk in paragraphs as opposed to 140 characters, and "to enhance social and professional ties within New York City's libertarian community." It's held at the Subculture Theater at 45 Bleecker Street in Manhattan, and after the debate wraps there's always free food and a cash bar. Doors open at 5:45, and the event convenes at 6:30—at which point the party has already begun.

Shot and edited by Micah Garen.

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