This is a really important topic within prison abolition because sex offenders are the one group most people would say are irredeemable, unfixable, and should be locked up. Those kinds of responses, however, are reactive and have been strategically taught to us by the government. The truth is that imprisonment, registries, and pseudo-psychology centers do not and cannot end–or even curb–sexual violence. People who cause sexual harm are everywhere all around us right now. Most rapists are family members and close friends, and most have also been victims of sexual trauma themselves. It’s all very circular.
Judith Levin and Erica Meiners stress the importance of true justice, meaning confronting situations head on and aiming for accountability and community involvement because limiting where people can live, who they can talk to, where they can work, (and who actually gets caught or convicted) does not help them be functional members of society. Levin and Meiners suggest beginning with actual sex education that goes beyond STDs and abstinence, admitting that the inconsistent and ineffective concept of the illegality of minors denies teenagers as sexual beings, and addressing consent as a malleable complex topic that is not always just yes or no between two people. Ultimately, it’s about humanizing the topic sexual harm in order to create a world that is free of it.