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April 12, 2015

Final weeks to focus on purposes, offense, offender, sentencing and post-sentencing for sex offenders

A number of stories I have recently covered on my blog leads me to conclude we would usefully bring our semester to an informative and challenging close by giving special attention to the uniquely dynamic purposes, offense/offender, sentencing/post-sentencing issues raised by an array of sex offenses and offenders.  Though I will assign some formal readings from our casebook on these topics on Tuesday, I will kick off this final segment of the course by urging everyone to cruise through the Sex Offender Sentencing archive on my main blog looking for stories they find especially interesting and thus worthy of in-class discussion.

To highlight how dynamic and challenging sex offender sentencing issues can be, consider these posts concerning notable sex offender sentencing rulings and stories making headlines just in the past few weeks and months:

Distinct goals/purposes issues:


 Distinct offense considerations:


Distinct offender considerations:


Distinct post-sentencing consequences and concerns:

I would be especially grateful if student come to class on Tuesday having reviewed many of these linked stories and with an opinion about which aspect(s) of sex offender sentencing they would like us to focus particularly upon in the final weeks of class.

April 12, 2015 in Class activities, Offense Conduct | Permalink


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At the end of class today, we were talking about which theoretical 'goal' of punishment we think most applies to sex offenders. I would echo Ryan's opinion that retribution is the most important. While I would not rank retribution high for most any other crime, I think the social stigmatization as well as the heinous nature of child molestation are compelling reasons why we as society want to see these people punished swiftly.

Typically, rehabilitation is my #1 personal goal, since many offenders are NOT receiving either LWOP or the death penalty. With sex offenders, though, I'm wary of rehabilitation. Again, part of this stems from the high rate of sex offender recidivism. Sex offenders are four times more likely to commit another sex offense upon being released from prison compared to non-sex offender prisoners. Moreover, rehabilitation is tricky because sex offenders are sometimes seen as having a specific mental illness that makes them prone to this type of activity. Though this hasn't been definitively proven through science, it adds a unique consideration into the question of whether society ought to be trying harder to face the question of rehabilitation for these individuals. For as far away as science is from establishing this link, we are even further from a cure to treat this so-called mental illness, which is clear through rates of established sex offender recidivism. And although many sex offenders suffer from other mental illnesses, getting members of society riled up about a sex offender not being rehabilitated properly before going back to society will be difficult due to the crime's stigmatization. However, maybe efforts to rehabilitate are uniquely important in the context of sex offenders. Definitely open to thoughts on this.

In the coming weeks, I'd be eager to talk more about whether or not sex crimes could be genetic and how this plays in at the sentencing phase. Is this science far enough advanced that courts would be willing to view it as an aggravating/mitigating factor? Even if it is, should it be considered at all?

Posted by: Kelly Flanigan | Apr 14, 2015 4:30:45 PM

Here's a link to a great anecdotal video produced by the North Carolina Justice Center a back about the impact of GS 14-208.18 (as mentioned in "Can a sheriff prohibit sex offenders from a church that is sometimes a school?") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3bN64CAWwo

In regards to our discussion Wednesday, I definitely agree that the "swiftness and certainty of punishment" factor is fundamentally important to address when determining deterrence impacts on the "nurture" side of the joe frat boy context. It’s questionable whether your run of the mill joe frat boy would be deterred, or rather recidivism encouraged through sex offender registration requirements.
However, our current perception and treatment of joe frat boy in the criminal justice system with regards to this factor (as well as disproportionate enforcement issues) is counterintuitive to both deterrent and retributive purposes.
Solutions I would propose to these issues wouldn’t be in the sentencing context (typical I know).

Posted by: Dilynn Roettker | Apr 16, 2015 3:07:44 PM

I found this PDF from Christian Ministries Insurance that describes the procedures and paperwork that a sex offender must complete before he is able to attend these services…


Posted by: Hallie Saferin | Apr 23, 2015 3:19:21 PM

ARGHHHH none of my comments are posting!!!!

Posted by: Hallie Saferin | Apr 23, 2015 3:20:08 PM

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