'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

Ira Mark Ellman

Arizona State University College of Law; Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology; Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley

Tara Ellman

Independent

Date Written: September 16, 2015

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Ellman, Ira Mark and Ellman, Tara, 'Frightening and High': The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics (September 16, 2015). Published at 30 Constitutional Commentary 495 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2616429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2616429

Ira Mark Ellman (Contact Author)

Arizona State University College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Phoenix, AZ
United States
480-965-2125 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.asu.edu/HomePages/Ellman/

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-1104
United States

Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

Tara Ellman

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,713
Rank
7,187
Abstract Views
7,841