SEX, CRIME, AND THE LAW by Donal E.J. & Edward Sagarin MacNamara


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The authors would like to see reform and greater uniformity in state laws relating to sex crimes--a loaded subject which they manage to handle as routinely as traffic violations. The proposed revisions of the penal code are in line with the American Law lnstitute's Model Penal Code and are essentially liberal in nature; all extant ""sex psychopath"" laws should be abolished as archaic, discriminatory, and vague--which, from the sampling here, they undoubtedly are. Beyond that, the authors argue that since there is little consensus on sexual morality, most ""deviant"" sex behavior should be decriminalized or treated as the most minimal kind of infraction--especially so-called ""victimless crimes"" such as pornography, homosexuality, and some ""jailbait"" cases. Unacceptable in virtually all societies are instances of forcible rape and sex between adults and children. The distinction, proposed by MacNamara and Sagarin, between ""children"" and ""minors"" (under and over ten years of age) should draw considerable fire, albeit the authors hedge their position by saying that ""minors"" must appear plausibly post-pubescent if the I-didn't-know-she-was-only-fourteen defense is to be allowed in statutory rape cases. The authors are more sanguine than most psychiatrists and sociologists on the possibility of minimizing recidivism for serious sex-related offenses; and is it reasonable to expect that attitudes toward rape and child molestation could ever not be ""rooted in ideology and inflamed by emotion""? What is indisputable, however is the need to sort out, for example, tangential moral, social, and therapeutic issues from legal edicts and policies. A clear reading of the considerable chaos of Our sex offense laws and some guidelines for improvement.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Free Press/Macmilian