A Cite-Checker's Guide to Sexual Dangerousness
Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 65-76, Spring 2008
7 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 21, 2008
In June of 2006, the UC Davis Law Review published an article by Professor Ruby Andrew arguing for rejecting any differentiation between persons convicted of intra-familial child sex abuse and those convicted of child sex abuse where the victim is a stranger or non-related acquaintance. Professor Andrew set out to persuade her readers that fathers and stepfathers who sexually abuse relatives present the same level of both moral culpability and danger to the community as non-familial child abusers, and that their related victims are best protected through rigidly punitive control policies. We agree with Andrew that familial victims are no less deserving than the victims of strangers. But it does not follow that the best way to help children victimized by relatives is by mandating imprisonment, or requiring the public humiliation of the family created by community notification. While we disagree with the general conclusion of Andrew's article, the reason for this note is a more specific concern about questions of fact in legal scholarship. On a question at the heart of the penal response to sex offenders - the relative dangers of sex recidivism for incest and non-incest child abusers - Andrew's article leaves a demonstrably false impression about current empirical research and, wittingly or unwittingly, ignores scores of published researched studies involving many thousands of subjects in several countries. What law review readers do not know can hurt them. We would hope that a peer-review process in which experts were consulted would have caught Andrew's false claims. But short of that, law students or lay people who checked her citations using the universally-accessible search engine provided by Google could have easily caught this problem.
Keywords: sex offenders, law review, recidivism, academic dishonesty
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