'Frightening and High': The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics
Published at 30 Constitutional Commentary 495 (2015)
14 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2015 Last revised: 18 Apr 2016
Date Written: September 16, 2015
This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the actual facts.
These final corrected page proofs are identical to the published version.
Keywords: law and social science, sex offenders, registries
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