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The Emerging Criminal War on Sex Offenders

August 17, 2009

Social Science Research Network : The Emerging Criminal War on Sex Offenders.
Article by Corey Rayburn Yung, The John Marshall Law School – August 16, 2009

Abstract:
This article addresses four central questions. First, what is the difference between normal law enforcement policy and a “war” on crime? Second, assuming such a line can be discerned, has the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“AWA”) in combination with other sex offender laws triggered a transition to a criminal war on sex offenders? Third, if such a criminal war is emerging, what will be the likely effects of such a transition? Fourth, if such a criminal war is emerging with substantial negative consequences, can it be stopped?

By reviewing America’s history of criminal wars, primarily in the War on Drugs, the article identifies three essential characteristics of a criminal war: marshaling of resources, myth creation, and exception making. It concludes that the federalization of sex offender policy brought about by the AWA elevated law enforcement to a nascent criminal war on sex crimes. This change could have repercussions as substantial as the drug war has had on American criminal justice and society.

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