On America’s Civil Death Penalty: The Sexual Offense Registry

Guy Hamilton-Smith writes a guest blog post for the Comparative Penology website, explaining how U.S. sex offender registries promote social isolation and “civil death.”

Here is an excerpt:

Oscar Wilde, writing from his cell in the Reading Gaol where he was imprisoned for homosexuality at the end of the nineteenth century, observed that “society reserves for itself the right to inflict appalling punishments on the individual, but it also has the supreme vice of shallowness, and fails to realise what it has done. When the man’s punishment is over, it leaves him to himself; that is to say, it abandons him at the very moment when its highest duty towards him begins.” 

In America, few aspects of law and policy so perfectly embody Wilde’s observation of punishment in nineteenth century England as sex offense registries.

Read the full blog post here.

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