Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ethics of the Sex Offender Database

Utah's database of convicted sex offenders is, for the most part, considered a good thing. It is important for information like that to be available... especially where children are concerned. There are two big issues that some might see as potential ethical problems though.

First, the site doesn't give us the whole story. I've heard people talk about this problem before, and they have mentioned that a big problem is that it makes some people look like horrible people when they are not. An example that i have often heard is when an 18-year-old is dating a 17-year-old and they break up. The 17-year-old gets mad, reports the 18-year-old, and suddenly, they have a criminal record as a sex offender. Now, I know this is not the case with a lot of the people on the database, but it isn't really fair to those few people who really do have situations like this.

The second is that it prevents these people from moving on with their lives. It haunts them in their jobs, relationships, and even where they make their homes. Society doesn't really give them a chance to be "rehabilitated" and rejoin the community. I think this is unfair to some of the people, like the ones I mentioned above. At the same time though, there are a lot of people who deserve to be haunted forver by the things they've done. So this is an idea that is also kind of up in the air for me.

Overall, I think the sex offender database is a good idea with good intentions, but like all good ideas and intentions, there are always going to be some problems.

1 comment:

ben said...

"Society doesn't really give them a chance to be "rehabilitated" and rejoin the community. I think this is unfair to some of the people, like the ones I mentioned above. At the same time though, there are a lot of people who deserve to be haunted forver by the things they've done."

That is a very true statements. I have two friends who got into situations that now have them on the registry. Both were required to see a psychologist for 2 years; as well as 2 years probation. Strangely enough, the probation officers released the guys early because he didn't believe they were a threat.

The counslers also felt that the guys weren't a risk, and weren't in need of help. The first guy was told this after 6 months, the other after a year. But one person didn't agree. The person who was in charge of the clinic. She felt that these guys were sick and needed more work. The first guy had to sit out his two years at $350 a month. The other guy is now up for review, and may get another year. Same price.