Net bill may protect kids from predators

Ian Hamilton
March 12, 2004
Filed under Opinion

It seems everything is just a click away, and soon, so will the names and addresses of every sexual offender in the state.

State Assembly Bill 488, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, and approved by an overwhelming majority of the Assembly, will allow everyone access to personal information on the Internet about convicted sex offenders.

If the bill survives the state Senate and is signed by the governor, the overall benefit for the public will far outweigh the hardships the law would create for ex-convicts.

While convicts will have a difficult time re-entering society under this law, this is a necessary cost of defending innocent individuals from sexual predators. It is already extremely difficult for an ex-con to find a job, but this law would make it even harder to maintain constant housing.

In states and counties where similar information is already on the Internet, picketing or violence has occurred against felons near their homes.

When people in a community discover they have a child molester living in the neighborhood, no one can predict what may happen.

For example, a knife-wielding Bakersfield man tried to kick down the door of a registered sex offender only days after police gave out fliers notifying the neighborhood residents that he lived there. The man was shot by police as he tried to break into the sex offender’s home.

This incident shows that even if sex offenders are put in danger by this law, they will be protected just like anyone else.

The bill’s opponents might argue that releasing personal information about sex offenders on the Internet qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.

They might claim that punishment for a crime is supposed to end when the sentence ends, but the release of personal information ensures that it continues.

However, the purpose of the bill is to protect the innocent, not to further punish felons.

An Internet database of sex offender information can help parents protect their kids. The truth is that a number of rapists and child molesters are not being rehabilitated. If they were, this level of protection would not be needed.

The hardships ex-cons may endure if this law passes are the direct result of the crimes they have committed.

Whatever danger this information puts ex-cons in is minute compared to the danger they represent to families.

This law isn’t going to help people sleep at night or feel any happier about their neighbors, but it may prevent further victims.

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