One of the crimes that is featured in several of my novels, and that I believe all would agree is one of the most heinous acts of violence possible, is pedophilia. My lead character, Emily Stone, is on a vigilante crusade to bring the pedophiles, rapists, and murderers around us to justice and she does so using risky means of surveillance that go beyond the efforts afforded to uniform officers.
I wonder what Emily would think of a recent ruling in Northern Ireland regarding the privacy rights of a convicted pedophile?
In Belfast, a man who had spent six years in prison for a multitude of crimes against children argued that a Facebook page with the title “Keeping Our Kids Safe from Predators” was unfairly targeting and punishing him after he already served the sentence deemed by the courts to be appropriate for his actions. The Belfast High Court apparently agreed, determining that displaying this man’s photograph and posting threatening comments amounted to harassment and a violation of his human rights. The page has since been taken down by Facebook.
In our country, there is a registry of convicted sex offenders. You can type in your zip code and see photographs and criminal histories for all such criminals. Notification goes out to the neighborhood when a man or woman who has harmed a child moves onto the block. They are often ostracized for the rest of their lives. Are these efforts a violation of rights as well, or are concerned citizens justified in their desire to keep watch over these offenders?
What are your thoughts on the case in Ireland?
Should child molesters have an expectation of privacy after their jail sentence is served, much like any other freed prisoner would enjoy, or do these unique circumstances make the broadcasting of their presence not only acceptable, but important?
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No way should he have privacy even after serving his time! Once a pedophile always a pedophile. Whether there is a gene for pedophilia or its behavior-learned – he will do it again. I hope that never happens but he must pay – always. And everyone should always know what he is!
There are two points here that cause this case to differ from your run of the mill “he did his time” scenario. One, he’s a pedophile, and it’s widely believed that pedophilia has no end. Two, we’re talking Facebook, and the easy access to children that the internet provides. I believe the Facebook, page serves the same purpose in this instance as the registry does, and parents/family have every right to be aware of who’s out there talking to their children.
The worry though with the facebook page is that it can be abused by anyone with a vendetta or actually the stupid we have all heard the sadly true story of a paediatrician being attacked because some ignorant person thought he was a paedophile. While I do believe that anyone commiting this sort of crime should forfeit their privacy and parents of children in any area they move to should be made aware I don’t think that a group on facebook is the best way to do it. I also read a very interesting article a few years ago which suggested that naming child sex offenders was dangerous because only one out of ten are actually known to authorities and therefore the danger was that while everyone is busy watching one person they are not paying proper attention to the others who are unknown and it instils a false sense of security
Valid point! Thanks Paula.
Thanks Thomas for stopping by and reposting too, I appreciate your valid comments 🙂
My pleasure, Jennifer. We do what we can to keep the wolves limited to the pages of our books 🙂
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I’ll play devil’s advocate here. First, I agree that an actual pedophile should not have any sort of privacy after their sentence. Actually, if the justice system was perfect, I wouldn’t want a convicted pedophile to ever get out of jail. In such a situation couldn’t we provide some place for such ones to live without reentering society? Of course, that’s a post for another day.
Getting back to the question at hand, I saw a Law and Order episode once where a convicted felon was listed in the pedophile database even though his sex crime had nothing to do with children, which begs the question, what do you do about people who aren’t actually pedophiles? Do you treat them as inhumanly as you would an actual pedophile?
Now, the felon from the episode was guilty of his particular crime, but how many are falsely convicted of crimes of pedophilia? If it’s like any other crime, I’d say there are many, which changes the situation to me. The system is broken, and regardless of how we decide to handle such serious situations, we are going to be treating many people unfairly.
Facebook is too public in my opinion. At least if it’s a little difficult to find such a list, the ones who shouldn’t be on the list have a certain modicum of privacy.
Obviously, this is a very difficult issue. No one has the exact, I would presume.