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

Elizabeth Esther Berenguer

Savannah Law School

October 4, 2011

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: SORNA, sex offender registry, social death, Currie, Foucault, Patterson

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Date posted: October 4, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Berenguer, Elizabeth Esther, The Invisible Man: How the Sex Offender Registry Results in Social Death (October 4, 2011). The Journal of Law and Social Deviance, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1938397

Contact Information

Elizabeth Esther Berenguer (Contact Author)
Savannah Law School ( email )
516 Drayton Street
Savannah, GA 31401
United States
9125253905 (Phone)
9125253915 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.savannahlawschool.org
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