• 324 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • Price: $37.95
  • EAN: 9781439912928
  • Publication: Feb 2017
  • Price: $94.50
  • EAN: 9781439912911
  • Publication: Feb 2017
  • Price: $37.95
  • EAN: 9781439912935
  • Publication: Feb 2017

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

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.


“Shaming the Constitution is a tour de force. Richly documented, the book describes, analyzes, interprets, and critiques our sex offender laws through multiple lenses. With standout sophistication and depth, the authors interweave law with social and behavioral sciences to lay the foundation for a scathing critique of current policy, advancing the public discourse especially by their discussions of international and comparative law and therapeutic jurisprudence. This book is a must-read for policy makers, advocates, judges, and students of sexual violence prevention.”
Eric S. Janus, Professor of Law and former President and Dean, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

In Shaming the Constitution , Perlin and Cucolo offer an unflinching, comprehensive view of sex offenders in America. With encyclopedic knowledge of international case law and policy, they provide readers at all levels with shocking details of how sex offenders have effectively been blocked from constitutional protections. They identify a confluence of social attitudes, media hype, public hysteria, knee-jerk legislation, and anxious judges marginalizing a heterogeneous group of offenders and offer therapeutic jurisprudence as a way out. I applaud their courage, scholarship, and optimism.”
Kenneth J. Weiss, Robert L. Sadoff Clinical Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

In so many ways, Shaming the Constitution contributes remarkably to the literature on 'sexual violent predator legislation.’ Bringing together, in one well-written volume, virtually all the issues that have plagued this area of law and practice, this book shows how we have failed to properly tackle each issue: risk prediction, effective treatment, the media frenzy that fuels the development of the laws and the judicial fear of calling out their unconstitutionality, the woeful inadequacy of counsel, and more. Co-authored by two distinguished scholars who have represented numerous clients caught in this maze, Shaming the Constitution gives rare insight into this area of legal scholarship. Perlin and Cucolo should be congratulated for a superb, nuanced, and practical effort.
David B. Wexler, Professor of Law and Director, International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, University of Puerto Rico; Distinguished Research Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Arizona

(A) must read for registrants and their families.... It points out the failures in our justice system when it comes to sex offenders and provides common sense ideas about where courts have gone wrong and what they need to do better.
The Scarlet Letter Echo: Women Against Registry

"This book is exemplary for many reasons: its subject matter; its courageousness; the wealth of legal, policy, historical, comparative, and psychological research that it expertly integrates and presents; and its elucidation of a bold prescription for dealing with one of the most intractable policy problems confounding the US—how to manage those whom society deems as sexual offenders.... Summing Up: Highly Recommended."

"Shaming the Constitution is a call to arms about the way in which many legal systems are responding to the challenge of protecting the community from sexually violent predators.... It makes the powerful point that the conceptual bases for such legislation are at best questionable.... At its heart are strongly expressed arguments about abandonment of principle, impoverished court processes and advocacy, questionable role adoption by mental health professionals, and risks to the delicate balance in our criminal justice system.... It is well researched, thoroughly referenced and engagingly written. Shaming the Constitution is challenging and concerning. It should be read and reflected upon by all who have an interest in how our criminal justice system responds to sex offending."
— Psychiatry, Psychology, and Law

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.

Also of Interest

Justice Outsourced

Edited by Michael L. Perlin and Kelly Frailing