Should Convicted Sex Offenders Names Be Made Public
Should Convicted Sex Offenders Names be Made Public? University of Phoenix Jessica Folds COM 172 August 23, 2010 Dr. Fenton Dixon Should Convicted Sex Offender’s Names be Made Public? American’s encompass diverse opinions on whether a convicted sex offender’s name should be made public. “Although passionately espoused arguments exist on all sides of the issue, very little academic or policy research has been conducted on the actual positive and negative effects of Internet notification” (Irwin, Delson, Kokish, Tobin, 2004, p. 4).
According to the research, several causes exist for keeping convicted sex offender’s names private. However, for the purpose of this essay, the writer will investigate the following: (1) anxiety; (2) information; (3) distress, and (4) trauma. Awareness of these causes and supporting arguments could be significant for determining what direction to pursue. First, publically displaying convicted sex offender’s names cause unnecessary anxiety, not only to the offender, but also to the public. Citizens in society often feel more anxious knowing that there is a convicted sex offender residing in the vicinity around them.
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Most often citizens do not know the specifics of the crime the offender has been charged with. Offenders can have their name put on the registry list for something as undemanding as mooning. With the citizens not knowing the circumstances they are panic stricken for no legitimate reason. “As sex offender registration and public notification laws begin to identify an increasing number of offenders, these laws will create increasing levels of panic and possibly may begin to terrorize communities” (Freeman-Longo, 2000, p. 8).
Second, with the increasing number of convicted sex offenders registering, there is also an increased risk for publicizing inaccurate information. If a convicted sex offender provides the incorrect address when registering then an innocent person’s address is listed as that of a convicted sex offender. Various states have reported that the sex offender registry list is not appropriately updated. There have been numerous vigilante attacks on innocent people because inaccurate information posted on the registry list. “In St.
Louis, Missouri, more than 700 registered sex offenders, or approximately 46 percent, do not live at the addresses posted on the sex offender registry, and many sex offenders (approximately 285 sex offenders released from prison as of May 1999) never get put on the list” (Freeman-Longo, 2000, p. 8). Then, making convicted sex offenders names public puts untold distress on others. “Unfortunately, when the details of the [registered sex offenders’] lives and crimes are posted on public registries and divulged through notification, it is not only the offender’s confidentiality that is violated” (Freeman-Longo, 2000, p. ). People often abuse the law of the sex offender registry list and provide too much information. In many cases the names of family members, friends, and the victim’s name is made public. The family members can be shamed and abused by society for things they could not control. When a victim’s name is made public, he or she may feel even more desecrated, and often times it can cause the victim to relive the incident. Finally, publically listing convicted sex offender’s name and other information can cause unnecessary trauma.
Many citizens employ the sex offender registry list to obtain the address of an offender or his or her property. There have been many cases of destruction, assault, battery, and even death to innocent people due to inaccurate information, or mistaken identity. After the law was passed to publically display convicted sex offender’s information, the first vigilante attack was the assault of an innocent man. “An anonymous website maintains an ominous list of hundreds of suicides, murders, and other inauspicious deaths of sex offenders or those presumed to be such” (Burns, 2009, p. ).
In conclusion, there were several causes that existed for keeping convicted sex offender’s names private. However, for the purpose of this essay, the writer investigated the following: (1) anxiety; (2) information; (3) distress, and (4) trauma. Citizens in society often feel more anxious knowing that there is a convicted sex offender living in the vicinity around them. There have been numerous vigilante attacks on innocent people because inaccurate information posted on the registry list. In many cases the names of family members, friends, and the victim’s name is made public.