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

The Journal of Law and Social Deviance, Forthcoming

35 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2011

Date Written: October 4, 2011


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.

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

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:

Elizabeth Esther Berenguer (Contact Author)

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics