Shaming the Constitution

The Detrimental Results of Sexual Violent Predator Legislation

Michael L. Perlin and Heather Ellis Cucolo
Heather Cucolo, recipient of the 2018 New York Law School Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award
Book Cover

PB: $37.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1292-8
Publication: Feb 17

HC: $94.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1291-1
Publication: Feb 17

Ebook: $37.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1293-5
Publication: Feb 17

324 pages
6 x 9

A new approach to the complex area of sex offender laws and policies

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Convicted sexually violent predators are more vilified, more subject to media misrepresentation, and more likely to be denied basic human rights than any other population. Shaming the Constitution authors Michael Perlin and Heather Cucolo question the intentions of sex offender laws, offering new approaches to this most complex (and controversial) area of law and social policy.

The authors assert that sex offender laws and policies are unconstitutional and counter-productive. The legislation largely fails to add to public safety—even ruining lives for what are, in some cases, trivial infractions. Shaming the Constitution draws on law, behavioral sciences, and other disciplines to show that many of the “solutions” to penalizing sexually violent predators are “wrong,” as they create the most repressive and useless laws.

In addition to tracing the history of sex offender laws, the authors address the case of Jesse Timmendequas, whose crime begat “Megan’s Law;” the media’s role in creating a “moral panic;” recidivism statistics and treatments, as well as international human rights laws. Ultimately, they call attention to the flaws in the system so we can find solutions that contribute to public safety in ways that do not mock Constitutional principles.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. The Key Factors
3. History of Sexual Offender Laws
4. Confounders
5. At Trial
6. Treatment of Sexual Offenders in Special Facilities
7. International Perspectives
8. Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Conclusion


About the Author(s)

Michael L. Perlin is Professor Emeritus of Law at New York Law School, where he was Founding Director of the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project, and is Co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates.

Heather Ellis Cucolo is an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School and Co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates.