Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Invisible Man: How the Sex Offender Registry Results in Social Death

Original Article


Elizabeth Berenguer Megale
Barry University School of Law

The Journal of Law and Social Deviance, Forthcoming

This Article establishes that over-criminalization serves to marginalize unwanted groups of society, and particularly regarding the sex offender registry, it results in social death. The author relies upon the notion of crime as a social construct to establish that the concept of “sex offense” changes over time as society and culture evolve. From there, the author incorporates the work of Michele Foucault involving the relationship of power, knowledge, and sexuality to show how the trend toward more repressive social controls over sex-related activity is related to a shift in this relationship. The Author identifies three characteristics and the associated traits which arise when over-criminalization exists, and further shows how these characteristics and traits are present with respect to the sex offender registry. This Article offers critical insight into the relationship between over-criminalization and repressive control systems and concludes that over-criminalization exists when repressive governmental controls seize power and render non-existent informal social controls. It follows that the sex offender registry is a repressive governmental control that has concentrated power in the government and criminal laws while shifting power away from informal social controls to result in the social death of those unwanted, those labeled sex offender.


anonymous said...

A while back I did some research on the effects of "Social Oastrasizim"and "Social Rejection" as it relates to the sociology of human beings. (sorry no referenses here,but anyone can search the titles in quotes and easily read about this subject). All I want to say is that when these things are experienced by humans it will first destroy thier minds so bad the Doctors describe the effects as SEVERE. To me that is PUNISHMENT.

Scott Dean said...

I am a "registered sex offender". This is what the world knows me as and has labeled me as being. But what does it mean to be a "registered sex offender? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I know that to the public it is as bad as it can get, but this is not what is was supposed to be. You see the problems began because of one seemingly minor mistake. This mistake has been overlooked for 20 years now and has led to some of the most dangerous laws ever created by the States. I spent many months researching to find this one mistake. The mistake I speak of is not what was done but what was not done.

It all started with the creation of the Federal laws that created the "registered sex offender" classification. What wasn't done is defining what this classification is. Without knowing what a "registered sex offender" is, means, and entails has led to a new criminal class rather then what it was meant to be. It was originally meant be a protective class. By not defining the term "registered sex offender" the laws had led one person to begin the process of criminalizing that class.

Former US Attorney General Gonzales had created rules and statements that criminalized the "registered sex offender" and opened the doors to further criminalization by the States. The SMART office set about creating guidelines that covered up the mistakes the AG Gonzales made without correcting any of them. These guidelines set the criminalization of the "registered sex offender" in stone.

Can one definition really make that much difference? To answer this you need to know what this definition should be according to the laws that created this classification. After much research and many attempts to define this class the final result is one based on not only the law that created it but many other Federal and State laws along with court rulings and legal documents dictating how it should be written.

Registered Sex Offender
A registrant of the Sex Offender Registry who is, through the process of registering in the registry, giving advantage to the law enforcement and public, by providing information that can assist with the prevention of sex related crimes and granting some assurance that public safety issues are being addressed by the registrant.

If like me you are a "registered sex offender" this is what you are and are doing. This is what it was meant to be. If you are being criminalized for being on the registry just tell it like it is. I am a "Registered Sex Offender" and am to be seen in light of this fact. I am to be defined as such in accordance with the laws that have created my current classification.

anonymous said...

Didn't read the entire 35 pages of the report, but from what I gleaned ,it is a very well writen and extensive argument. In my opinion, the article brings to light the fact that if the Government can do this to one class of people (sex offenders) it can and will do it to others if left unabated. I wonder how many State and Federal legislators would even consider the implications of this report. I wonder if any of them would even read it if they were provided a copy. In any event, research and the reports such as this one are not going away.The resistance, by citizens, against a punitive, unconstitutional, and life destroying registry is not going away either. Quite the contrary, truth,education, and common sense regarding the registry is growing in our Country.
Society is begining to understand that by truth, education , and common sense we can better keep our children safe without a useless public registry, and at the same time controll and remove from society the truly dangerous sexual offenders.
Peace and God's love to all! 

TCLNick203 said...

I to didn't read the whole thing but focused on the introduction and the last paragraph.  While I found it hard to cope with the technical language the author used (it was only 7:30am), I respected what was said and found hope in the conclusion that the registries are not born of logic but a propagation of power born of fear...

The last year since being released from custody has given me the chance (as I also, thankfully, have been accepted back by my employer) to investigate more fully the travesty that has become the American legal system.  

Laws continue to become far more stringent.  Penalties and sentences become far more harsh.  Definitions of what an "offender" is are constantly being refined.  Why?  Because fear and hysteria have been propagated by government and the media.  The public, being afraid, turns to law enforcement and the legislature to protect them from the unseen threat.  Once protected, the public is free to start hating those the the law is meant to protect them from.  They are relieved of the burden of actually talking to people and learning the truth.

The next step is that law enforcement and the legislature get a taste of power.  The public, by crying out for a savior from the predators that might harm their children, have, in a sense, removed the cork from the bottle and allowed the genie to escape.  Power is an addiction that is likely far more dangerous to a society than sex or drugs.  Once the checks and balances in a society are replaced by fear, law makers can do as they wish and lose sight of the fact that they, in effect, are breaking the law.  However, where their actions may have once been called into question, nobody will speak out since they don't want to be the ones who are weak or sympathetic to the evil predators lurking around every corner...

For anyone who remembers the past, this has been seen several times throughout history.  In each case, the society that manifested these traits (except, perhaps, one) collapsed:
1.  The Roman Empire:  hated and persecuted Christians as being the ultimate evil
2.  Nazi Germany:  hated and prosecuted Jews, homosexuals and Gypsies
3.  The McCarthy Era:  the whole of the United States is caught up in the RED threat.  Communists are suspected everywhere.  Everybody suspected their neighbors and never noticed that the greatest threat was the person telling them there was a threat!

Note:  This last one, by the way, exemplifies the other two.  In each case, the public was told who they should hate by those seeking to grasp and retain power.  Until the society either collapsed or was destroyed, no act of man was able to take that power away.  Where do you think the US stands now?

The human mind is a miraculous thing.  I believe it is capable of far more than we yet realize.  There are wonders to come that we cannot yet conceive.  Yet until mankind can get beyond the need for fear to act as a cohesive force (envision cavemen huddling in a cave wondering if/when one of them will be killed in the night by a wild animal), that door will never be unlocked.

As the Eagles once performed:
"So often times it happens, that we live our lives in chains, but we never even know we have the key."

Some must be sacrificed if all are to be saved.  Perhaps sex offenders are those "some."  It's not pleasant... it's not fair...  it's not even productive (yet)...  We may also only be the start of something worse (remember 1984?).  However, there is truth in the words "He who loses his life will find it."  It was true for me, I've seen it...  Will it be true for America?

'nuf said?  Probably...  You be the judge...