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April 27, 2015

Protecting Our Kids? St. Francis Professor Examines Sex Offender Laws

A parent will do whatever they can to keep their child safe. But what if some of the laws we pass to protect our kids don't do that at all? St. Francis College Professor Emily Horowitz charges head first into the controversial topic of sex offender laws to challenge what she says is an aura of safety that is based on myth not facts.

Emily Horowitz protecting our kids book

Dr. Horowitz, Chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department, will offered a preview of her new book, Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us (Praeger) on April 28, 2015.

With the release of her new book, Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us (Praeger) Dr. Horowitz, Chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at St. Francis, is on the leading edge in the fight to change laws that harshly and perpetually punish offenders but do nothing to make society safer.

Since the book was released, Dr. Horowitz published an editorial in the New York Daily News about the high-profile case of reality show star Josh Duggar, after the media reported that as a minor he had sexually abused his two sisters. In her editorial, Dr. Horowitz contrasted the Duggar family response with another family that reported the crime to authorities, and argued that the criminal justice system focuses on draconian punishment rather than research and evidence-based policies when it comes to sex crimes. She then appeared on The Kelly File special on Fox News with two sisters of Josh Duggar to talk about the issue, and was quoted at length in an NBC News story about the case. She was also profiled by Lenore Skenazy in the The Villager, in an article about her work on this issue as well as her other efforts to promote criminal justice reform. Dr. Horowitz was also featured on the podcast, How Do We Fix It?

Among the topics covered in the book are: how laws emphasize stranger-danger despite the fact that most abuse comes from family and friends; the root of modern day sex offender laws; and the impact on convicted sex offenders who live with the label of "the worst of the worst."

"Dr. Horowitz makes a persuasive case for why the current rash of draconian sex offender laws in the United States violate civil liberties, create an entire class of pariahs and outcasts, and above all, fail to protect children," writes Gavin de Becker, bestselling author of The Gift of Fear. "She compellingly shows that portrayals of offenders as predatory, incurable monsters do not advance our understanding—and no matter how politically popular a set of laws might be, popularity does not translate into effectiveness."

Emily Horowitz, PhD, is chairperson and associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of articles about inflammatory media coverage of sex offenders and child abusers and of miscarriages of justice related to panic about child safety. She serves as a researcher and advocate in criminal cases involving those falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of crimes against children. At St. Francis, Horowitz has developed courses on wrongful conviction and mass incarceration, and she recently started a pilot program that helps the formerly incarcerated complete college. She received her doctorate in sociology in 2002 from Yale University.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.

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