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Emory L. J. Online


The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in Packingham v. North Carolina that the state's law banning registered sex offenders from using social networking sites was unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. An issue that has arisen in the case is the state's justification for the ban. North Carolina and thirteen other states represented in a friend of the court brief make three claims concerning the risk of registered sex offenders: (1) sex offenders have a notoriously high rate of sexual recidivism; (2) sex offenders are typically crossover offenders in having both adult and child victims; and (3) sexual predators commonly use social networking sites to lure children for sexual exploitation purposes. The collective states contend that these three claims are supported by scientific evidence and common sense. This Essay outlines how the states misconstrue, and at times misrepresent, the scientific evidence they cite regarding such risk-based claims.

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