Radley Balko (Washington Post), David Feige (Slate), and Lenore Skenazy (New York Post) tackle the big lie about ‘sex offenders’ – three really smart takes!   Oral argument in Packingham v. North Carolina – links to the transcript and archived audio are at the end.   –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire


The Washington Post | March 9, 2017

The big lie about sex offenders



By Radley Balko


Much of the destructive, extra-punishment punishment we inflict on sex offenders is due to the widely held belief that they’re more likely to re-offend than the perpetrators of other classes of crimes. This has been the main justification for the Supreme Court’s authorization of sex-offender registries and for holding sex offenders indefinitely after they’ve served their sentences. Lower courts have then cited those rulings to justify a host of other measures, from severe restrictions on where sex offenders can live to GPS monitoring of their every move.  The problem…is that the claim just isn’t true.  MORE:




Slate | March 7, 2017

The Supreme Court’s Sex-Offender Jurisprudence Is Based on a Lie



By David Feige


Excerpts:  Can the state ban sex offenders from social media? That’s the question at the heart of Packingham v. North Carolina, a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The Packingham case has become a First Amendment cause célèbre, and judging from the oral arguments the court may well reverse his conviction on those grounds.


It is also a near certainty that even while doing so, the court will leave unexamined a much greater problem: a tragic lie at the heart of all of the jurisprudence surrounding sex offenders. Sex offenders are among the most reviled citizens of our nation. Subject to registration, residency restrictions, and literally hundreds of other constricting laws, the 800,000 people on America’s sex-offender registries are by far the most policed population in our country.


What drives this extraordinary raft of regulations is a pervasive and resilient belief that sex offenders are extremely likely to repeat their crimes.  Even worse is the fact that this fundamental falsehood has been incorporated into our sex-offender jurisprudence—from the top down.  MORE:




New York Post | March 1, 2017

Do sex offenders have a right to free speech?



By Lenore Skenazy


For its part, North Carolina’s lawyer Robert Montgomery insisted that sex offenders should be barred from any Internet sites minors might use, just as they’re barred from playgrounds and parks. This Court has recognized that they have a high rate of recidivism and are very likely to do this again. Even as late as 20 years from when they are released, they may recidivate.


It’s true the court recognized this “high rate of recidivism,” but it’s also true that it was mistaken. As the scholar/lawyer Ira Ellman wrote in a stunning expose a few years ago, the “frightening and high” recidivism risk cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2002 — a rate the justice said “has been estimated to be as high as 80 percent” — was based on what turned out to be a single article by a single therapist in an old copy of Psychology Today.  The therapist didn’t even cite any evidence.


Actual studies have found the sex-offender recidivism rate to be about 5 percent.  So Montgomery’s argument is based, in part, on a falsehood. But the question remains: Do sex offenders have a right to be part of the world at all?  MORE:




Packingham v. North Carolina

U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 15-1194

Legal briefs: 


Transcript of the oral argument:


Archived audio of the oral argument:



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