Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yung on the Criminal War on Sex Offenders

The issue of exceptional regimes is taken up in The Emerging Criminal War on Sex Offenders, posted by Corey Rayburn Yung, The John Marshall Law School. A historian's take on the Nixon era "war on crime" is Michael Sherry's book, In the Shadow of War. Yung responds to queries about the way the idea of "war" is used in 20th century crime policy in an interesting discussion here. Here's the 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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