Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sex Offenders & The Internet

I'm not all that in favor of having registered sex offenders made public for anyone to see. I would be much more in favor of sex offenders having to be registered in some sort of database. A database for employers, or anyone with a certain need-to-know, may look.

For example, a child rapist isn't going to be a concern to me, a single white adult male with no children under my care. If John Doe, two houses down, is a convicted child rapist, that's not going to matter to me. I have no need to know. However, if good ol' Johnny is trying to get a job at the local elementary school, then the school might want to do a background check on him.

Having sex offenders register with a public data base, I think, is not fair. I would like to see it be much more on a need-to-know basis.

As for the "They didn't put the whole story" claim, I wouldn't mind it if suspects/criminals had the opportunity to write up 'their side of the story' to be attached to the rest of the file. If the database had not only the initial charges, but what they were found guilty of, in addition to 'their side of the story', then anyone researching that individual would have more information on which to formulate an opinion and make a decision.

I had the USU police called on me once for an accusation which I do, and always will, claim was false. When the police spoke with me there was very little, if any, 'So what's your side of the story?’ They were very much "This is what we've been told about you, so this is what we're telling you to do." Some of the information which had been reported to them, as I saw it on the official report, was questionable as to its accuracy. The following week I inquired as to what I may do if I feel that there was information of questionable accuracy in the accusation. I was told that I could file a 'my side of the story', which I assume would then have been attached to my report. I think this would be a good option for sex offenders.

Bottom line: There should be some reform made in the way the state handles the information concerning sex offenders.


dairy diva said...

I do agree with Dave K that there are some problems with the Sex Offender website. The only thing that is interesting about the site is that it is completely voluntary. None of those people are required to give "accurate" information. They do so on a voluntary basis.

I however disagree that it is important that people should know who lives next to them. It may not matter to you but what about those mothers with small children living on the other side of John Doe. That is a problem for them.

The only interesting thing is that the website is a public database. It allows the public to see it and it holds the information.

I think the biggest problem with the site is the possibility of retaliation against the people on the site. This is a way for someone who is angered at one of these people to have a starting place to find them. I just worry that the site could become a way for sex offender killers or harassers to find them.

I think that site should be accessible by going through a local law enforcement office. Not just available to all who want to view it.

Bea said...

I agree with dairy_angel. I think a list of sex offenders should be available through the local law enforcement office.

It's important for people to know who their neighbors are, but I don't think it's right for people to be able to look around the list of sex offenders for fun. Having a registry with local law enforcement would make the information available, but not as easy to access.

I also think it's interesting that the site has a disclaimer saying the Department doesn't guarantee that all the information is accurate. I would think that if this kind of information is going to be posted where anyone can access it, someone ought to be making sure everything is accurate.

Nancy Williams said...

I was told that I could file a 'my side of the story', which I assume would then have been attached to my report. I think this would be a good option for sex offenders.

I'm guessing you didn't file your side of the story, Dave, but I wish you had. I agree it's an idea that should be explored for use with online sex offender registries.

Dave Kennedy said...

No, unfortunately, I never did file my side of the story. For the next week I was too steamed up to write anything cohesive, and then when I cooled down, I just wanted to leave it in the past. But sometimes I wish I had.

Boy Scout said...

You know, I was really surprised to read that you don’t care about having sex offenders listed on line because you are a single white male. Now I don’t want what I’m about to write to be directly pointed at you, because this goes for a lot of other people who have blogged as well, and I don’t want to pick fights. I just want to make a point about responsibility because it seems like nobody will take resposibility for their actions these days.
It concerns me that so many people in our class have blogged about the unfairness of being listed on the sex offender registry for having sex with a minor; I think that it has also been suggested in some of these blogs that this law is in and of itself often unfair. But what about holding people who have sex with strangers and barely illegal boyfriends and girlfriends accountable for their own actions? Who doesn’t know that the internet is an unreliable way to meet people? Who doesn’t know about statutory rape laws? The people registered online broke the law. When you break the law there are consequences. Some of them suck, and that’s sad, but do we make the consequences disappear? You guys, we are not idiots. We are not children. We can and should be held accountable for the choices that we make. As Kant and Ross argued, we do have certain duties, to ourselves, and to each other.

Dave Kennedy said...

Oh, I agree completely with the notion that too few people these days actually take responsibility for their actions. I won't argue that. I just am not all that fond of the manner in which sex offenders have to 'take responsibility' for their actions. Fines, jail, and prison are fine. But the public internet-based registry just rubs me the wrong way. Do we have a registry for thieves and muggers? Do we have a registry for people guilty of hate crimes? Some of the hate crimes that people commit are much worse than statutory rape. In some ways I'm reminded of Michaels Moore's 'Bowling for Columbine' in which he asks "Why are we Americans so afraid?" What is it about sex offenders that scares us so much? Let’s say that I belonged to a minority and that I were to have a child; Why would it be expected that I would be so much more afraid of a sex offender than a hate criminal? I can understand a genuine fear of rape, but statutory rape or indecent exposure or lude conduct, come on. Okay, so the television commercials tell us that 1 in 5 children is sexually solicited online, right? Well, speaking of taking responsibility, perhaps the parents need to take more responsibility in educating their children in online activities. Along with fewer people taking responsibility for themselves these days, I also feel that fewer people are taking proper responsibility for their own children. And what is ‘sexually solicited’? Does that mean “I flirted with a 15 year old who told me she was 19” or does that mean “I sent pornographic images to a girl whom I knew was 15”? Okay, I’m writing a novel and should probably stop here.