There are more than 800,000 people listed on sex offender registries in the United States today. These kinds of registries have been a primary tool in the government’s efforts to prevent sex crimes. Rather than debating whether or not they have been effective in guarding public safety, this lesson asks students to look at the impact of such registries and related policies on democracy and the rule of law.
Society’s view of sex crimes, and the policies created around them, is based on a complicated set of beliefs about safety, morality, virtue, childhood innocence and traditional gender roles. Because most people convicted of committing sex offenses eventually return to communities, there is a compelling public interest in management and treatment strategies that lead to successful reintegration. How far can those strategies stretch before they weaken legal protections for everyone?
In this lesson, students will take a position on the constitutionality of laws and policies that monitor and manage people with sex offense convictions in the United States. The lesson also offers an option for students to explore their own use of smartphones, computers and other devices and examine when things that are shared with friends cross the line and become sex crimes.
Video clips provided with this lesson are from the documentary Pervert Park. This film takes viewers inside a residential center in a Florida mobile home park that is run by and for those who have committed sex offenses, served their sentences and been released from prison.
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