Sex Offenses and the Problem of Prevention

  • Margo KaplanEmail author


It is a laudable goal to prevent sexual assault before it occurs rather than merely punish it after the occurrence. Yet the proliferation of laws that seek to accomplish this goal by punishing or detaining individuals who have yet to commit a sexual assault can unjustifiably infringe on the freedom of individuals who have yet to act culpably. In this chapter, I consider two approaches to preventing sexual assault that have expanded significantly: (1) inchoate offenses criminalizing the sexual solicitation and enticement of minors and (2) special civil commitment statutes for those determined to be “sexually violent predators.”

The former are troubling due to their focus on a highly preparatory phase with too tenuous a link to the ultimate target offense. An imperfect solution would be to make them complete offenses that target the psychological harms to minors that these acts can cause. Sexually violent predator statutes’ vague requirements and inadequate evidentiary rigor raise legitimate concerns among those who take autonomy seriously.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers Law SchoolCamdenUSA

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