In an essay at In Justice Today, Guy Hamilton Smith writes that 21st Century American sex offender registries are akin to modern-day witch hunts. He says sex offender registries should get much more attention from advocates of criminal justice reform than they now do.
Even as we find ourselves in a new era marked by bipartisan acknowledgement of the need for criminal justice reform, in some areas we continue to be influenced by this same appeal to boogeymen, even if their shape and form changes. Instead of “super” predators, we’re now faced with “sexually violent” ones.
As with witches, the modern-day sex offender largely a creature of our own creation, acting as a sort of repository for many of our collective moral anxiety around sex. While a baked-in ick factor often turns many erstwhile warriors into silent observers, awareness and informed response is badly needed from those within the criminal justice community.