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McCartan to discuss public attitudes toward sex abusers at Robina Institute Forum

March 18, 2013

The University of Minnesota Law School announced today that Kieran McCartan, senior lecturer in criminology at the University of the West of England, will headline the first installment of the Robina in Conversation series April 10 in the Law School.

Organized by the Robina Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, the Robina in Conversation series brings together scholars, practitioners and community members for dynamic, interactive discussions about pressing issues in criminal law and justice.

The free public event will take place 3-4:30 p.m. in Mondale Hall room 25. Continuing Legal Education credits (1.5 credits) have been approved and are offered free of charge. 

McCartan, a visiting scholar this spring in the Robina Institute, will discuss community attitudes toward child sex abusers, and the public’s role in the reintegration of sex offenders back in to the community. Joining him in the conversation will be Robina Institute visiting fellows John Stuart (Minnesota State Public Defender) and Jeff Edblad (Isanti County Attorney). Associate Professor Perry Moriearty of the Law School will moderate the discussion.

"Sexual offenders, especially child sexual abusers, are among the most reviled and ostracized offenders in society," McCartan said. "The reintegration of sex offenders back into the community has always been a difficult balancing act between risk management and public protection. It is important to question whether communities realistically understand sexual offending, sex offenders or state responses to these offenders."

A central issue in the conversation will be the role of the public in the reintegration of sex offenders. Formal and informal sex offender disclosure strategies that have developed in recent years offer community members more information about who are local sex offenders. The role of the public in the management, regulation and reintegration of offenders has the potential to increase given the current austerity cuts and reforms in criminal justice policy happening globally.

McCartan is program manager in criminology and deputy director of the Criminal Justice Unit at the University of the West of England, in Bristol. Also during his time as a visiting scholar at the University of Minnesota, he will conduct a number of focus groups of Twin Cities residents to investigate their knowledge of local sex offenders, their understandings of criminal justice responses to child sexual abusers, and their attitudes toward reintegration and rehabilitation efforts.

The Robina Institute works with policy-makers, practitioners and a wide range of leading scholars to improve criminal justice systems that are widely recognized to be ineffective, overly costly, overly severe, and insufficiently attentive to the needs and interests of victims. The Institute focuses its work on three core, interrelated program areas: sentencing law and policy, led by Professors Kevin Reitz and Richard Frase; criminal law theory, headed by Professor Antony Duff; and criminal justice policy, led by Professor Michael Tonry.

The Institute is supported by a major long-term grant from the Minneapolis-based Robina Foundation, which was established by James H. Binger, a St. Paul native and 1941 graduate of the Minnesota Law School, shortly before his death in 2004.

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