News & Resources: Guest editorials

The William A. Percy Foundation is happy to post guest opinions or reviews of notable books on topics of sexual diversity, rights, law, and history written by qualified scholars, activists, or those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. We offer the option of publishing these writings anonymously as we welcome entries from former incarcerated persons who are legitimately concerned about being targeted by probation or parole officers – as well as submissions representing critical voices among those working within the carceral establishment. These essays – offered in the spirit of sparking discussion – reflect only the views of their authors and not necessarily the opinions or positions of the Percy Foundation or its Board of Directors. If you have a guest editorial, essay, or book review, please send it for consideration by e-mail to or by mail to our Chico, California, address.

Two claims which can be decisively made about today’s teens and young adults – singling out this birth cohort from the ones that came before: Young people today are experiencing significantly higher rates of unhappiness and mental illness, and they are also exhibiting a unique lack of sexual activity. Read a provocative deep dive into the reasons: Why Are Young People So Unhappy? – Mental Health, Sexual Development, Loss of Autonomy.

Downstate is a play about a day in the life of four men living in a halfway house, each with a conviction for a sex offense involving minors. Yet Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Bruce Norris has won rave reviews questioning ‘What is too much?’ when it comes to punishing these crimes. Is Downstate an inflection point in public discourse about criminal justice? Click here for a review.

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Ketanji Brown Jackson

The Significance of Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court  – Her historical importance is not only as the first African-American woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, but as the only current member of the court with a background in criminal justice at a time when both expert opinion and public sentiment demand a fundamental reconsideration of inequities in the administration of criminal justice and the heavy social costs of prolonged mass incarceration.

The argument for legalizing prostitution – In the U.S., there are serious problems with rape and with sex trafficking, where persons are forced to engage in sex against their will. At the same time, with the criminalization of sex work, many non-violent persons are arrested and placed in prison for many years. This contributes to high rates of incarceration, huge prison budgets that are a waste of taxpayer dollars, and many destroyed and wasted lives. All of these factors combine to make the rate of sexually-transmitted infections higher than in any other economically advanced nation.

credit: Molly Crabapple / NYRB
‘Whores But Organized’: Sex Workers Rally for Reform – from New York Review of Books’ blog, an illustrated essay by Molly Crabapple about a rally by sex workers in New York City, showing indications of growing traction for a ‘Nordic’ model of decriminalization that doesn’t simply target male customers. credit: Molly Crabapple / NYRB


The Sexual Politics of Huxley’s Brave New World & Orwell’s 1984 – What surprising things do the classic 20th-century dystopian novels Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) and 1984 (George Orwell) have to say about sexual regulation in the West today? Here’s a compilation of quotations and scenes from these works that show the centrality of sexual control to these imaginings of life without freedom.

A homophile magazine that had to fight just for the right to use the US Mail.

Learning from History: Lessons for activism today – The GLBT movement has been one of the most successful social movements in the West in recent generations. Yet the struggle to fight sexual injustices and hysterias – now in new guises – seems greater than ever. Learning from the paths taken by the gay activists – especially from a time when the movement’s later success was but a gleam in the eye of a generation unborn – is a good place to start.


Drawing by inmate Billy Thomas
Drawing by inmate Billy Thomas

Reflections on a public lynching – A former Federal prisoner reflects on a “reality TV” portrayal of an attempted murder of a prisoner, as a guard and reporters stand by and do nothing.

Voluntary sexual relations among prisoners: One prisoner’s experiences – The joys, risks, and paradoxes of sex among prisoners are presented in this fascinating account of one man’s experiences in range of U.S. federal institutions.

The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Law (ACSOL) is one of the most dynamic organizations working to fight Apartheid-style registries and gulag archipelago of civil commitment – and the oversize contribution irrational and vengeful sex laws make generally to the American carceral state. Here’s a detailed report on their third annual conference, held in June 2019 in Los Angeles at Southwestern Law School.

Cory Walgren
Cory Walgren

The Pedophile as a Folk Devil – In an essay published on in September 2019, James Hunter explores the panic and demonization behind the suicide of 16-year-old Illinois high school student Cory Walgren – accused of producing “child porn” after consensually recording intimacy with his girlfriend.

Judith Butler’s new book, The Force of Nonviolence (Verso, 2020) prompted a number of interviews with the author – among them, in the New Yorker and The Nation. Here is one reader’s reply to the latter interview in particular, discussing Butler’s contributions to approaches to sexuality and their relation to the entrenched violence she sees institutionalized in America’s carceral state.