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Online Sex Offender Database Leads To Murder? 1001

Posted by Zonk
from the just-think-what-open-government-will-lead-to dept.
nem75 writes "The LA Times reports on the story of Michael A. Dodele, a convicted rapist, found murdered in a Lakeport trailer park. He moved there after having been released from prison just 35 days before. A 29-year-old construction worker has been arrested in the attack, and explained that he killed Dodele to protect his son from child molestation. He found out on the internet about Dodele being a sex offender, via the 'Megan's Law' database. The public entry for Dodele in the database was wrong — though he was found guilty of committing crimes against adult women he was not a child molester. Dodele's entry in Megan's Law DB has been removed." Update: 12/11 15:51 GMT by Z : Moved link to non-reg article.
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Online Sex Offender Database Leads To Murder?

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  • Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:45AM (#21656089)
    The whole point of these laws is to make you miserable for the rest of your life. If some whack-job kills you, all the better.

    This is the purpose of creating a society of hate.
  • by Embrionic (152953) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:47AM (#21656133)
    I'm sorry, I still believe in our fading Republic.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:48AM (#21656153) Journal
    I'm conflicted. On the one hand I'm against these databases; once you've served your time you should be a free man in every way.

    On the other hand, the responsiblity for the murder is solely on th eman who committed the murder. Ironically one of the victims of this murder is the very child the murderer was trying to protect, who will grow up without a father.

    On the third hand*, maybe the kid's better off without a violent dumshit like that around.

    -mcgrew [slashdot.org]

    *The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  • In other news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:50AM (#21656191)
    Scientists announced today that after extensive research they have decided that murder, unless in direct self defense, is still murder.

    This guy was going to kill someone, somewhere, somehow. The fact that he a rapist living near him means nothing. If he didn't have the database, he'd grab the yellowpages.

  • Megan's Law FTW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spungo (729241) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:51AM (#21656213)
    Another victory for hysterical knee-jerk legislation.
  • Society of Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:51AM (#21656215) Homepage
    The media and the government have worked for the past few decades to make sure that everyone lives in fear of everything all the time. These sex offender databases are part of that. There have been sexual predators for as long as there have been people. Attacks have always been relatively rare, and most people will never be victimized. However, you put these lists and databases out there, people see that a sex offender lives near them, and they freak out.

    We are constantly bombarded with reports of what we should be afraid of this week ("find out about the new threat that could kill your children, tonight on 9 news at 10!"). We have also been conditioned through the use of these databases and sensationalist segments like "To Catch a Predator" to believe that everyone ever convicted (or even accused) of a sex crime of any kind is out to get our children. Given all this, it's not at all surprising that someone would snap and do something like this.
  • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:52AM (#21656223) Homepage Journal

    I hope the guy ... gets raped in jail

    Nobody deserves rape. You should be thankful that most of society does not share your sense of justice.

  • by VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:53AM (#21656255)
    Imagine the outrage and press if the database hadn't gotten the offender's entry wrong.

    Oh, right. There wouldn't be any.

    In my opinion, that's sick. Because of a government agency's screwup, it's suddenly not A-OK to murder a released convict? If the man actually HAD been a child molester, you would never have heard of this story. Everyone would have shrugged it off. Eh, the murderer was twisted, but at least he was protecting his kid. The murdered guy was a sick child molester, so he deserved it anyway, right?

    The sex offender list isn't any more wrong because of this. The murder isn't any more wrong because of the list's screwup (and the victim isn't any less of a sick person because of it). All this is is just another example why a sex offender list is stupid and unconstitutional -- it's just that it wouldn't be noticed if somebody hadn't screwed up.
  • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:58AM (#21656339) Journal
    Its the old justice vs vengence conflict all over again. Theoretically after their time in the penal system a convict has paid their debt to society, and has been their slate wiped clean. The public tracking websites appeal to a mob-mentality, fear based culture that suggests criminals can't reform, that you're at risk at all times, and that someone is out to get you and your family. Yes a number of child molesters (and other criminals) re-offend upon being released from prison. The question should be whether public tracking databases reduce this likelihood.

    My personal opinion is 'no', in fact they exacerbate the problem by limiting convicts' abilities to reintegrate into society. Once branded with the scarlet letter, they live out their Les Miserables' existence being pursued by law enforcement and vigilantes for the rest of their days.

    Child molesters are the boogeymen of the 2000s, just like drug lords were of the 1980s and 90s, gangs of the 60s and 70s, and communists of the 1950s. They pose a societal threat, but not somuch that you need to legislate around their existence and vastly expand policing powers beyond what already exists.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Potor (658520) <farker1@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:59AM (#21656357) Journal

    I was gonna mod you up to save you from obtuse mods, but you're AC. Your point, nevertheless, is right on target.

    Things like the police and civil society were formed to protect us from each other. When you stick something up like a db of criminals and their houses, you effectively remove this protection, and create a society of fear, which becomes a society of hate.

    But to make time for RIAA-orchestrated police raids [google.com], I guess you need to relieve the police of some of their responsibilities.

  • Tradeoff... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#21656395)
    So the guy "protected" his son from molestation (even though the risk was pretty damned small), and in return gave his son an absentee father, visits to the penitentiary, almost certain divorce (assuming he was married), and a long span of whispers and looks.

    Oh yeah, he made a GREAT choice - a real bargain.
  • by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#21656415)
    Well the article is for registered users only so I can't read it, but I feel like there's something missing from this story. Some key detail like Dodele hanging around the contrustion worker's trailer constantly or something. Otherwise this killer is just using his son as an excuse for being batshit psycho. What did this guy do, log in to the sex offender registry on occasion to see if any molesters lived near him so he could kill them with a clear conscience or with some feeling of vigilante style justice? With only the summary to go on it sounds like this construction worker was being more than just a proactive father. A proactive person complains to the park management, speak with the police, confronts the guy, talks to his own kids about steering clear, etc. Not up and decides "well there's a molester in the neighborhood, guess I'll have to be the one to *kill* him."

    This of course is completely separate from the discussion of the usefulness, constitutionality, and accuracy of sex offender DBs.
  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superwiz (655733) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:03PM (#21656449) Journal
    A good percentage of the people in that database are "criminals" who committed the statutory rape of having sex while in high school (because the other person was under age). We can laugh it off, but we are talking about these people having to register their entire life for what was essentially an innocent act. The problem here is not computers. It's the legal system. If someone is a threat to society so much so that they cannot live a free person, they must not be allowed out of a prison or hospital. And innocent behavior should not be a crime.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOsPAm.optonline.net> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:03PM (#21656451) Journal

    All valid points. What good is a system of state-sponsored punishment if after you've paid your debt, you're still considered guilty? Why would that make any prisoner want to reform, if he/she knew they would be treated the same no matter what? Yes, there is the problem of recidivism, but I think that is exacerbated by this kind of thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:10PM (#21656581)
    Some jurisdictions have a Community Notification, a letter is sent to people living in the community. This is usually handled by the police or parole board.

    Having the offender in question go door to door would be a death sentence. Also it would be hard to explain, "Hello little boy is your mommy or daddy home? I need to talk to them."
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark_wilkins (687537) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:12PM (#21656631)
    The Supreme Court has ruled that being included on one of these lists isn't "punishment," and thus is not subject to normal constitutional limits on judicial punishment. Figure that one out. (It's the same situation, by the way, with civil forfeiture.)
  • Re:This is great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sk8king (573108) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:12PM (#21656635)
    Not to defend anyone, but just to pose a question.

    If you are 18 and are going out with a 17 year old and you're a monster, what are you if you are 17 and going out with a 16 year old? What are you if you are 18 1/2 and dating someone who is 17 3/4? In three months, you'll both be "18". I guess we could ask if you are 18, just about to turn 19 and you are going out with someone who just turned 18, what are you then. And then why is it okay for a 45 year old man to marry a 35 year old woman? What is this thing that happens to a person's mind during that day just before his/her 18th birthday through the day of his/her birthday? And what if you're just going out for ice-cream?

    I'm just trying to figure out what "The Right Way" is. It is my understanding that 18 is a rather arbitrary age since voting, consuming alcohol (legally), and driving (legally) all have different ages associated with be able to perform said actions.
  • by faedle (114018) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:13PM (#21656655) Homepage Journal
    The "sex offender" registry hasn't prevented one crime against children, and has in fact caused more problems than it has solved.

    From the US Department of Justice: 96% of female rape victims younger than 12 years old, knew their attackers. 20% were victimized by their fathers or step-fathers. 60% were victimized by another family member.

    Sex crimes are the only crimes we continue to punish people after they've "paid their debt to society". We restrict their movement, restrict where they can live, and in many cases ensure through force of law that they never lead a normal life again.

    If we, as a society, are convinced that child molesters are incurable, let's just keep them locked up. This idiotic list serves no purpose: if they are, indeed, almost certain to commit the crime again, why are we releasing them from institutionalization? If these people are "sick", let's transfer them from the penal system to the mental health system where they probably belong.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RandoX (828285) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:14PM (#21656673)
    Ask his rape victim if she's back to normal. Her life is changed forever. Why should his be any different?
  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:19PM (#21656737) Journal
    Try and speak out "for" the rights of those accused and/or convinced of child molestation. Go ahead and do it in a more public forum, and watch yourself get lynched. "Think of the children" trumps all common sense.

    The irrational fear of this is beyond anything I have ever seen. I hear otherwise normal, educated people say that anyone accused should get the death penalty, or "if they get raped in prison, they deserve it. I hope they die of AIDS" and the like. The total hatred and desire for the accused to suffer a horrible death is pretty frightening in itself.

    Right now in America, if you tried to pass a law that says that everyone 'ACCUSED' of sex crimes against children gets lethal injection without a trial, and put it up to a general vote, it would pass. Thank god we aren't a true democracy.
  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:19PM (#21656739)
    Well, why don't you tell me what is the benefit (to the public) of having a PUBLIC registry of convicted sex offenders (statutory rape anyone)?

    The only reason for such registries, is to enact continuing lifelong punishment on the convicted criminal, even after the release, by virtue of harrassment by the members of the public who somehow have the free time to go browsing these databases (instead of taking care of their children).

    What are you going to do if a sex offender moves next door to you? Have him evicted on a technicality? Torch his house? Stab him? Don't you think that whatever little chance there is of having this man re-integrate into society, will likely be ruined by this behavior? If you don't want to re-integrate this man into the society, then go ahead and lobby for life-sentences for any sex offense (18 sleeping with 17?)... or better yet - the death penalty. But if you take up the view that people can change, and can pay their debt to society, you have to accept your own conclusions.

    But back to the main question - how is publicly-viewable registration going to increase public safety? Is it going to prevent a habitual rapist from raping? If not registering is a little crime, do you think that matters to someone who is pathologically going to commit far more severe offenses?
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:20PM (#21656759)
    Because the point of a penal system should be reform, not vengeance. Nothing can undue what was done to the victim. If there's a chance to reform the criminal and make him or her a contributing member of society, that should be done. Continuing to punish a reformed criminal because his or her victim has not healed provides less benefit to society than forgiveness.

    Otherwise, why not just put rapists to the death too?

    Your argument is one of emotion, not logic.
  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:21PM (#21656781) Journal
    What's ironic is that the things the media and government are scaring people with are things that, as you say, are unlikely to ever happen to you, while real danger is unregarded.

    Take terrorism, for example. More Americans died fighting in Iraq than died on 9-11. Fewer than 3,000 people have died this entire century on American soil from terrorism, while half a million Americans die from cancer every year, another half million from heart attacks. The terrorists I'm more scared of are the terrorists who run the fast food and tobacco companies!

    Meanwhile 40,000 Americans die on the highways every year. I'd like to see some of that Homeland Security money go to some guardrails - it would actually save some lives rather than being a political circus.

    But guardrails don't give government officials more power.

    -mcgrew [slashdot.org]
  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:22PM (#21656785) Homepage
    What is the matter with the DB? It merely compiles and retrieves data that is public anyways. Why rely on someone with a long memory? I do not understand why _all_ criminal convictions (and why not misdemenors) are not in publicly accessible DBs. Court is and must be public. Not "private".


    People may well be prejudiced. However stupid, that is their right except where limited by law. A bigger problem is differential privacy, where some people can hide things and others cannot. A boss might be less inclined to go after a gay employee if his own divorces and DUIs were equally public. Likewise for the cop.

  • Re:far fetched (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moondo (177508) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:23PM (#21656797)
    Nobody told anybody to go and kill the person. FACT. The database might have facilitated that function (fact, indeed), but you can use your argument on literally anything. Nailguns might facilitate killing, hammers, forks, things with sharp edges, and so on. I still think that the person who went to kill is at fault. If there were no database, he would have looked for other ways to obtain the information and kill the person.
  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:23PM (#21656805)

    And you've most likely never been raped.

    Paraphrased: You're just not arguing from emotion enough.

  • by spazLizard (1093769) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:24PM (#21656817)
    I'm not crazy about a "choose one or the other" attitude in the justice system as we assume all offenders are the same. That also lead to the "three strikes you're out" mess. Some people who offend three times need to be put away for good, others may have committed all three crimes in a static situation that now has changed. Back to the point, I think we need people who do understand the psychology of rapists to assist in deciding who has served their term and who is still a risk.
  • Re:This is great. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by hobbit (5915) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:24PM (#21656819)
    Just to pose another question: is it possible you have given a straight reply to a sarcastic post?

  • Keep in mind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Y-Crate (540566) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:26PM (#21656851)
    If the guy who murdered him gets released in ten, twenty years he can move anywhere without ending up on a list or being forced to tell his neighbors of his past.
  • Re:Megan's Law FTW (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:28PM (#21656895)
    One of the biggest problems with Megan's Law databases is the information they selectively withhold from search results to maximize the amount of post-release scorn the people listed on it face in their daily lives. Take someone who's listed as having been convicted of "aggravated child abuse and rape of a child between 12 and 15". Scum, right? Unless, of course, you found out it was a 15 year old babysitter who had sex with a horny 12 year old, it was entirely consensual, and the charges were all statutory (in other words, by definition it would be considered aggravated abuse and rape regardless of consent). But you'll never find that out from a Megan's Law database. See, the Powers that Be don't WANT you to decide that what someone did is "OK" (or at least something not worth destroying their life over). So they do their best to make sure everyone on the list looks like an evil monster.

    I have a friend who'll be in prison for 10 years for having sex with a minor, and a registered sex criminal for life when he finally gets out. What he did was wrong, and he's the first to admit it. But so are the circumstances under which he was prosecuted. He met a 14 year old online, who claimed to be 18. They eventually met up, and my friend admits he knew the kid was lying (but insists he thought the kid was at least 16 or 17... which is entirely plausible to anyone who sees the kid's picture). The kid's parents found out and tried to have my friend prosecuted... but failed, because the alleged victim refused to cooperate. With no witness, the DA had no case. At least, not until the kid was arrested for possession of marijuana a few months later. The DA's office found the paperwork to the original case, and threatened to seek the maximum penalties for conviction (6 months in jail) unless the kid cooperated and testified against my friend. Obviously, the DA got his conviction, and another notch on his bedpost. In the process, the DA f**ked the kid worse than any adult ever could.
  • by myth_of_sisyphus (818378) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:29PM (#21656911)
    Barely escaped being labelled a sex offender because he pissed in a park near a school. He was really drunk and it was 2 am but he was going to be charged with (I forget exactly) "Exposing himself within fifty feet of a school." He got a good lawyer and got a lesser charge but his life was nearly ruined for a mistake he didn't even remember making.

    It's hard to have sympathy for molesters and rapists but when you hear of people released from prison whose only option is to live under an overpass because that's the only place not near a child I do feel some sympathy. I mean, shouldn't the government designate an area childfree in each state that these guys can live? If not, just put them back in prison for the rest of their lives. It's more humane than under an overpass.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:29PM (#21656917) Homepage
    The point is that "big brother" publishes a list of "bad people". And then there's a progression where it somehow becomes okay for a good people to know how to find and get rid of bad people.

    Seems to me a minor party hack published that it was okay to exterminate folks with a particular ancestry in Europe about 70 years ago, and that Milosovic basically published that it was okay to kill bad folks in Croatia and Bosnia about ten years ago. For those US folks that think "it can't happen here", a governor of a US Midwestern state published in the 1830's that it was ok to exterminate an entire group of people just for what they believed. That order wasn't officially rescinded until 1976.

    Now then, I won't argue whether the convicted man was good or bad -- because most child molestors do not reform -- nor will I argue that folks don't have the right to protect their kids from unreformed molestors. What I will argue is that publishing a list in a manner as easily accessible as the Internet may be the wrong way to go about protecting the neighborhood. Because otherwise mob and/or vigilant justice takes control and can very easily get out of hand. Leading to murder and/or genocide.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CreatureComfort (741652) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:30PM (#21656935)

    From the article:

    Oliver is being held without bail, a police statement said, because he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in San Diego and was on parole when Dodele was killed.
    Gee, it sure seems like the guy convicted of assault with a deadly weapon had a much higher recidivism rate. Not to mention that the guy he killed never molested a child, or a male. Maybe we should just have an offender registry that lists everyone who has ever been convicted of any crime? After all, maybe you don't want to buy that house on the same block as the lady who has received 5 speeding tickets... your kids wouldn't be safe in the front yard. After all speeders are notoriously recidivist, and the cause of many highway fatalities.

  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:32PM (#21656967)
    Please cite a source for high recidivism in sexual crimes. This is frequently stated, but only common knowledge is used as a source. If you can't cite a source for this, we have to throw that argument out.

    Furthermore, my point of view is that the lists are not making children safer. Rather, they seem to be aimed to exact punishment far after the criminal has paid his or her dues.

    Finally, if there is a risk of recidivism, then we need to keep the person in jail and therapy. Releasing them and placing them on a "harass this person" list just encourages criminal behavior. After all, we are releasing people who are still dangerous (after all, high recidivism, right?) and then promptly removing any chance for them to integrate with normal society and develop a support network.

    We're letting out dangerous people and encouraging them to recommit!
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:34PM (#21657011) Journal
    I'll just add to your comment instead.

    Even IF we, as a society, decide that keeping these "sex offender" lists available for public searching is a "good thing", we certainly need to modify the laws themselves first.

    Right now, the law doesn't differentiate at all between the man who has sex with 4 year olds in a childcare facility while working there, and the man who has sex with a 15 year old who lies about her age, and possibly even produces a fake ID showing her age as older than she really is.

    In my mind, it's clear that it's really the former person that most people get concerned enough about to want to know if they live near them. The other case amounts to an act that's considered perfectly LEGAL in many countries of the world. It revolves around the fact that the 15 year old had enough of at least a PHYSICAL appearance of an adult to be considered sexually attractive to the guy in question.

    There's always going to be a problem when you're forced to draw lines at specific ages for what's "legal" and what's "illegal" ... but at the very least, I find it very odd that the U.S. has such things as "PG-13" movie ratings (indicating the content, often including sexual innuendo, is "safe" for 13 year olds and up), and by 15, we're issuing driver's permits. (We're trusting them with a very expensive machine that they can easily kill or be killed with.) Yet, we still don't think a 14 or 15 year old can possibly be capable of "consenting to sex" with someone older?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:34PM (#21657013)
    One is terminal, the other is not. While someone may commit suicide after a violent attack, isn't it worse if you take away their right to choose to live?
  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:35PM (#21657017)
    Do you have a figure? What percentage of women that live through a rape commit suicide. That'd be an interesting figure to look at. Did you know the vast majority of rapes are commited by - tadzoum - the husband ! Certainly unacceptable and punishable, but maybe not something worth killing yourself for.

    The feminist myth that rape is worst than death and can never be overcome is actually hurting rape victim by making them feel odd when they eventually heal from the psychological wound.

  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:4, Insightful)

    by computational super (740265) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:39PM (#21657117)

    I've seen this logic posited many times in the past, and I don't get where you're coming from - perhaps you can explain. You seem to be saying that it's not harmful if the other person is also underage, but that it is harmful if the other person is overage. This doesn't make sense - if it's harmful, it's harmful, and that's that. Logically, it's actually more harmful if the other person is underage because the other person is less likely to be responsible about safety/birth control. Right?

  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pxuongl (758399) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:42PM (#21657179)
    I somewhat agree. This law is designed to make the offender miserable for the rest of their lives... and while it does do exactly that very well, the law also punishes everyone else as well... by making a convicted felon's life miserable, you give them no other choice but to continue breaking the law.

    And with this guy, I think he needs to be punished to the furthest extent of the law. Sure, he's saying he just wanted to protect his kid... but doing so by breaking another law? by committing premeditated murder?

    What ever happened to just moving out of the trailer park?
  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:44PM (#21657241)

    Despite enough notable cases of women killing themselves after being raped?
    And how many guys have killed themselves because their girlfriend dumped them? Is breaking off a relationship worse than murder? How many people have killed themselves because they lost their job? Because their stocks fell in price? Because their parents didn't buy them the sports car they wanted for their birthday?

    I'm not saying rape is a good thing, or that it's not horrible to endure, but claiming that "It's worse than death because some women will kill themselves because of it." leads to a terrible precedent. The bottom line is that some people WILL kill themselves if they get depressed. Putting anything that causes that depression on the same level as murder is just idiotic.

    And no, I've never been raped. By your logic, I guess that makes me unqualified to speak on the subject. Of course, given that we can't ask ANYBODY whose been murdered, we're going to have to start accepting testimony from people who didn't experience all these things.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:47PM (#21657307)
    No, because I'm not the one making unsourced claims. I haven't said anything about recidivism, other than his claim isn't cited. The onus is on the person making the claims.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:49PM (#21657367) Homepage Journal
    This is one of those assertions that always has me scratching my head. According to the statistic I find online [popcenter.org], approximately 1 in 4 women is raped before graduating college. This means a quarter of the population is incapable of forming relationships? I know people are lonely and alone out there, but from my own personal experience it's hard to believe that a full quarter of the developed world's women are spinsters.

    On the other hand "meaningful relationship" is a pretty vague term. I'm not entirely sure how you would measure that.
  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:54PM (#21657439)
    God also states that you should never touch the skin of a pig. (lev 11:7-8), so make sure you avoid any football games.

    Leviticus 25:44 allows you to own slaves, provided they are from neighboring nations.

    You may also sell your daughter into slavery (exodus 21:7).

    There are dozens more, its a fun read.

    Overall, if you want to live by the laws in the bible, thats fine. But you are not allowed to pick and choose the ones that you like and ignore the rest.

    Face it, you are more than likely guilty of dozens of its laws and thus subject to death by stoning.

    Have a nice day.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:05PM (#21657665) Journal

    Because of a government agency's screwup, it's suddenly not A-OK to murder a released convict?

    Wait -- when was it ever OK to murder a released convict?

    If the man actually HAD been a child molester, you would never have heard of this story.

    Actually, you would. (Sibling posts have links.)

    Eh, the murderer was twisted, but at least he was protecting his kid. The murdered guy was a sick child molester, so he deserved it anyway, right?

    I hope I never get as cynical about other people as you are right now.

    If we really believed these things, why would we be releasing child molesters anyway?

    The sex offender list isn't any more wrong because of this. The murder isn't any more wrong because of the list's screwup (and the victim isn't any less of a sick person because of it).

    True, but a little publicity never hurt. I wonder how many people didn't even know about this list until they read about this murder in the news?

    All this is is just another example why a sex offender list is stupid and unconstitutional

    Stupid, yes. But unconstitutional?

    I know my rights, and I'm fairly sure there isn't a right not to be on lists.

    Now, it might be a good amendment -- making ex-cons officially done with the system. If you've served your time, the government should officially reinstate you as a citizen, end of story. Things like parole only work if it's either an alternate way of serving the same sentence, or punishment for how you served your sentence. (Bad behavior could get years added, good behavior could get you on parole instead.)

  • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pentavirate (867026) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:10PM (#21657753) Homepage Journal
    The guy who killed Dodele should be prosecuted and thrown in prison. There's no excuse to commit premeditated murder. Nevertheless, that's not to say the db caused the murder. A messed up guy caused the murder for a screwed up reason.

    With repeat offenses so high among sex offenders, We should have the opportunity to have the information necessary to protect our families. I'd like to know before I send my kid to little Johnny's house to play whether Johnny's dad or older brother has a history of molesting kids. I lived in a neighborhood where a recently released child rapist/murderer had moved in with his parents right before we moved into our house. He'd done the crimes while a juvenile so he had a shorter sentence (10 years) and he wasn't in the online db. You can bet it would have affected our decision to buy a house in that neighborhood.

    Police can't protect you. They can only clean up the mess afterwards and hope to be a deterrant. The only way we can protect ourselves and our families is if we have the information at our disposal to do so.

    Doesn't information want to be free, anyways?
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:14PM (#21657863) Homepage
    This alleged murderer may be a low-functioning individual, or he just may be crazy, but nevertheless our society has reinforced his paranoia and justified it. The real tragedy about all of this is that we have allowed our "modern" society to behave like some medieval village.

    It may be convenient to think that this guy is somehow mentally handicaped, but that's a dangerous assumption because it implies that this kind of behavior is only possible from other low-functioning individuals. The quotes you have of him talking about the guy molesting children even after being told that the victim was not a child molester make no rational sense -- but that's because it's the alleged perp's emotional justification for his actions. It's not (necessarily) that he was stupid so he couldn't think straight, it's that he was overwhelmed with emotions (fear for his son, hate for sex offenders), and that continues even after he committed his crime. Everyone, regardless of their intellect, can find their reason overwhelmed by emotion.

    So the societal pressure you're talking about is spot on, and even more threatening. The discussion about sex offenders going on in the news, television, in politics, and everywhere else is completely dominated by the emotions of fear and hate. Reason is rarely even welcome in the debate. It's an environment where things like this will happen, and happen often, much more than simply crazy people going off the handle, because crazy isn't a requirement.
  • by eck011219 (851729) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:15PM (#21657879)
    The way it works here in Illinois, as far as I know, is that you have to register with the police. Residents can go to the police station and ask them who the registered sex offenders are in their area.

    Which is where my problem with this law comes in. Being able to sidle into my den with a cup of coffee, turn on the computer, and find out who in my neighborhood is registered is a very different level of commitment than going to the police station. And it makes it possible for a whack job like this guy to find out that information without alerting police. No leads, then, when he kills the guy.

    But that's not the full extent of my issue with it. My main problem is that you can't add things to someone's sentence after the fact. If you want to tell every sex offender from now on that they'll be on this list, that's fine. But to add someone who was convicted in, say, 1975 and spent ten years in prison is ethically wrong and quite possibly unconstitutional (under the 5th and/or the 14th amendments, perhaps). From a practical standpoint, it adds punishment after time served and could be argued to deny the convict of life (in this case), liberty, and even property (given that it's probably pretty much impossible to get a job if you're on the website).

    There are a lot of dirtbags out there who are listed on the websites, and I do worry about them not only in general for society but for the safety of my own daughter. But dirtbags or not, you can't just tack more on to a sentence after they get out (sometimes years after they get out) because their crime is more repellent than most.

    And I know, there is a higher chance of recidivism among sex offenders. So again, make it part of the sentence now. Eventually, all sex offenders will be on the website. Not a perfect solution if you're scared that you live near an offender, but if we start making exceptions to the law for hot-button issues, the entire concept of liberty is sunk anyway (for all of us, not just the sex offenders).
  • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pentavirate (867026) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:15PM (#21657883) Homepage Journal
    We should also make searchable databases for all those suspected or convicted of thief, buglary, murder, fraud, and any other felony or misdemeanor

    Not a bad idea. I think all public records should be easily accessible and searchable.

    and a list of who their neighbors were at the time, as well as their immediate family. Make it accessible to the public so everyone can see, we'd be so safe then that we wouldn't need the police anymore.

    The rest of your post is just nonsense.
  • by Goldarn (922750) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:21PM (#21658033)

    And you've most likely never been raped.

    Because if you've ever been the victim of a violent act, it's considered appropriate for you to demand vengeance upon the people who attacked you.

    Unless, of course, you are an Iraqi, 'cause then it would just be stupid.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SetupWeasel (54062) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:25PM (#21658117) Homepage
    Wrong, on both points, the focus of the system should be first and foremost Public Protection.

    Then why not kill all criminals? That would be the logical conclusion to that argument. We call them "correctional facilities" for a reason.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:25PM (#21658125) Homepage Journal
    It is not quite that simple.

    If we refine "doing it again" as "getting convicted of doing it again", then some studies go as low as 3%. Others...

    Marshall and Barbaree (1990) found in their review of studies that the recidivism rate for specific types of offenders varied:
    * Incest offenders ranged between 4 and 10 percent.
    * Rapists ranged between 7 and 35 percent.
    * Child molesters with female victims ranged between 10 and 29 percent.
    * Child molesters with male victims ranged between 13 and 40 percent.

    * Exhibitionists ranged between 41 and 71 percent.
    ...go as high as 40%. A quick average for child molesters looks to be 15-20%.

    Now add the following fact:

    "A three-year longitudinal study (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour, 1992) of 4,008 adult women found that 84 percent of respondents who identified themselves as rape victims did not report the crime to authorities."
    In other words, the real rate of rape is about 6 times what is reported by adults. Unreported by children we could expect to be similar. Does this raise the real rate of recidivism? Almost certainly. How much? That takes a better statistician than I to calculate.

    Then add the fact that some of the reported rapes ( both of adults and children ) are not prosecuted for lack of evidence 'beyond a reasonable doubt", and the real recidivism rates can only get higher.

    In summary, if we define 'doing it again' as simply 'doing it again', then it is way more than 5%. Where's my pitchfork?

  • by ruiner13 (527499) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:31PM (#21658205) Homepage
    In some states, public indecency will get you on the sex offender list (I think West Virginia is one)*. So, for merely getting caught peeing behind a tree at a bar after drinking a lot, you can get labeled a sex offender for life. The only victim of that crime is the person convicted, as they will have problems getting jobs, homes, even credit for the rest of their lives, and get put on wonderful lists like these. These sites are an invasion of privacy, frequently contain bad/wrong information, and rely on the offenders themselves to keep their addresses current. There are so many problems with this idea I can't even count them.

    * I know this information because for a few weeks I worked as a developer for a major national sex offender search website until my morals caught up to me and I realized what a colossally bad idea the sites are.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:32PM (#21658229) Homepage Journal
    and stripping voting rights away from convicted felons who have served their time, etc. etc. etc.

    It's kind of like the system is set up so that the deck is so stacked against someone who has been in prison, they want him or her to do something bad again so they can pass even harsher laws.

    If Megan's Law really did lead to this murder, then the parents of Megan share a portion of the blame and deserve to be treated as co-conspirators. The law doesn't bring their child back, but apparently it did deprive a once-sick man who had paid his debt to society from life. There, does that sound enough like the guys who think homosexual prison rape is a desirable punishment?

    (Make no mistake, I do not sympathize with rapists, but if we do not have the rule of just law, we have nothing).
  • by felipekk (1007591) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:34PM (#21658265) Journal

    I haven't read the white paper but I'm going to ask you anyway:

    How can they be sure that only 5% reoffended?

    IMO the correct sentence would be that only 5% was caught reoffending. Maybe the total reoffend rate is way higher, but since these guys now have more experience in the business, they are doing better: escaping from the police/leaving no evidences/killing the victim.

    PS.: definr.com does not show the word reoffend so I'm not sure it is correct, but you sure know what I mean by reoffend/reoffended/reoffending.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knara (9377) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:39PM (#21658351)

    Take a look at the DOJ statistics for recidivism and sex offenders (easy way to get a good analysis is via the Skeptics magazine from earlier this year, it'll be on their webpage). Contrary to popular belief, sex offenders re-offend at a much lower rate than most other felonies.

    But popular society right now has a lot invested in the idea that there's a pedophile behind every rock, so no one pays attention to the real numbers (since we're out of commies now, and terrorism is all wrapped up by Jack Bauer, this must be the "new thing" to worry about when we're not making PSAs about the "autism epidemic").

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:49PM (#21658579) Journal

    I think all public records should be easily accessible and searchable.

    Cool! Do I have your permission then to go into your DMV file and obtain your social security number and address?

    The point being of course that even public databases can have reasonable privacy protections in place. I fail to see why someones criminal record should be accessible to all after they have paid their debt to soceity. In the specific case of sex offenders, if they are so dangerous that we have to notify people when they move into the neighborhood, then why the fuck are they being released from prison?

    Either they are that dangerous, in which case lock 'em up and throw away the key, or they aren't, in which case, WTF is up with being punished after you get out of prison?

    I'd tend to be with the lock 'em up and throw away the key crowd as far as child molesters and rapists go.... but other sex "offenders" (teenagers having sex when one or both are under the age of consent) are also finding themselves on these lists. I don't see how any reasonable person can condone that.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:50PM (#21658611)
    It's not a database that causes a society of hate.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:01PM (#21658833)
    According to this article, which sites multiple studies [honoluluadvertiser.com] recidivism rate of sex offenders have been estimated between 5.7% and 13.4%. Mind you, many more were rearrested for some non-sex crime (such as drug use or theft I would guess). Also other criminals with no prior history of sex convictions were about as 1/4th as likely as sex offenders to commit a sex crime.

    So here we have an individual who is 86-94% likely not to reoffend. Do you think his chances to stay out of trouble and not cause harm to your child are improved by living under the bridge [cnn.com], not having a decent job, only having other sex offenders as friends and having reasons to hate potential victims (us)? Do you think Jonny's son is likely to grow up an upstanding citizen if his family is hated and he is shunned by everyone in school?

    Police tries to protect society overall by reducing crime rate. By taking justice into your own hands, you are only thinking about yourself at the expense of the rest of your community. Even if your actions are technically legal, you may be actually hurting your and your family's safety due to your lack of experience. Showing hate to someone is sure likely to make you a preferred target of their potential future crimes.
  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdotNO@SPAMpitabred.dyndns.org> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:11PM (#21659029) Homepage
    Yeah, I'm totally leery about letting my kids near anyone who ever got wasted and then took a leak in a public park. Because that makes them Evil(tm). If they're dangerous, keep them locked up. If they're not, don't. If we let people know who all the sexual predators are, I think we should be fair and let them know who all has a burglary conviction, assault, and any other crime that involves any sort of violence or invasion of someone else's property. I'd be more scared to have someone convicted of beating his last neighbor with a rake living next to me than some guy who pissed on a tree in front of a cop.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:15PM (#21659113) Journal

    I'm reasonably sure my social security number is not considered of public record.

    No, it's not, because soceity recognizes that there are legitimate reasons for withholding it, even from public records. I filed bankruptcy a few years ago -- if you were so inclined you could go pull every single document and fling from my case off PACER -- but the SSN is redacted from all of them.

    Likewise, I'd like to think that if you pay your debt to soceity (i.e: you aren't on parole or in prison) then soceity shouldn't judge you for your past actions. I'm also a member of the minority that thinks it's abhorrent to deny convicted felon's the right to vote -- after they have completed their sentences. Why the hell should you be disenfranchised from soceity for the rest of your life if the crime wasn't harsh enough to warrant a life sentence?

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cmburns69 (169686) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:34PM (#21659467) Homepage Journal
    I thought you would like to know that sex-offenders are LESS likely to be repeat offenders (As posters above have pointed out, and provided links and citations).

    But then I read the rest of your post and realized that you were less interested in actual justice (the administering of deserved punishment or reward justice defined [reference.com]) and more interested in living in fear.

  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:57PM (#21659929) Homepage Journal

    I mean, shouldn't the government designate an area childfree in each state that these guys can live?
    Can I go there even if I'm not a sex offender? Please?

    Also, remember that we will also need a women-free area for the rapists, and a property-free area for the thieves. Also a brain-free area for the fuckwits to come up with these "protect the children by fucking up someone's life so he's sure to not re-integrate into society" ideas.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Spoonman (634311) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:01PM (#21660017) Homepage
    Spoken like a True Republican...you know..the kind of idiot who thinks our criminal "rehabilitation" system does anything more than breed more, better, stronger, well-connected criminals.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:01PM (#21660023) Journal

    Why shouldn't you be allowed to vote? Because youve proven to society that you make bad descisions

    And what gives you the right to say that they will make a "bad decision" at the ballot box? And in any case, I have a serious problem with removing someone's right to vote. Even ex-cons are entitled to political representation.

  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:02PM (#21660055) Homepage Journal

    I think the real problem here is not that privacy is being violated, but that people (1) kill, and (2) do so without being sure their victim is actually guilty of the things they kill them for.
    The reason for both is that people in fear don't act rational, and far too few of us have seen "The politics of fear" (google it, it's available for download from somewhere. If you haven't, it's the most important political documentary of the decade).
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:11PM (#21660191)
    I'm not seeing anything in the OP about repeat offenses. He raped one 37 year old woman in 1987. He was not 15 at the time.

    In other words, you did what the killer did.. misunderstood the crime and lept to assumption that this person was much worse then they are.

    I view this Oliver as a far worse human being.... based off guesses and the excuse 'but my child was abused once!' this person is justifying murdering someone. And the sad, sick thing is many will probably agree with him and call him a hero (or even justified) when in reality he was a dangerous idiot who needs to be kept behind bars for a LONG time.

    A rape is a terrible thing, but the guy was not sentenced to death for it,.... some yokle in a tailer park does NOT have the right to second guess the justice system and kill the guy anyway.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bud Dickman (1131973) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:19PM (#21660331)
    Spoken like someone who's been conned into the Blue State vs. Red State shell game. Hey - it's fun to have a favorite team but if the most insightful political remark you can make revolves around labeling someone instead of having a real discussion, maybe you should stick to rooting for a sports team instead?
  • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:36PM (#21660651) Journal

    Why shouldn't you be allowed to vote? Because youve proven to society that you make bad descisions.

    Hence, why we disenfranchise divorcees, people who've declared bankruptcy, owners of large SUVs, and fans of American Idol. And I'd recommend only selective voting registration for Slashdotters with enough negative moderation too.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fastolfe (1470) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:45PM (#21660793)
    No, "society" is reacting to the story of some girl that was abused by some guy that just got out of prison for doing the same thing before. It's not about punishing the guy (adding to his "debt"), it's about Protecting The Children from the evil repeat offenders.

    You could argue that the effect is the same. The modified law represents the "new" debt to be paid to society by people convicted of these crimes. But that's not why the law was modified. Society didn't decide that the punishment should be harsher, they decided they wanted to track the evil child molesters that The System loosed upon society.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fastolfe (1470) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:58PM (#21661039)

    The problem is that the laws aren't strict enough...

    No matter how many people speak up and say that the punishment fits the crime (such as the jury that convicted these people in the first place), there will always be someone saying it doesn't go far enough. And who wants to go on record and side with the convicted sex offender? So punishments will get harsher and harsher, and there will still be people saying it's not enough.

    Punishment is only part of the solution. Punishment feeds our hunger for retribution and revenge, but it's the least effective at actually solving the problem. Please don't forget about things like the scientific method, deterrence, rehabilitation and proactive assistance for potential criminals. Yes, some people will convict crimes after being released from the criminal justice system. Most will not. Is it really appropriate to punish those people just because they might commit another crime in the future? I've never been convicted of a crime, but 100% of those that are convicted of a crime had never been convicted prior to their first conviction, right? Why not suspect everyone of being a potential offender?

    Every so often, someone does need to step up and say, please think of the sex offenders! What kind of a society are we giving our precious children? A suspicious, fascist, paranoid police state? Look at the big picture here.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:50PM (#21661991) Homepage
    You can become a felon for pretty transient and petty reasons.

    If you aren't willing to personally lop off their heads you shouldn't be willing to permanently disenfranchise them either. Ensuring that there's little point to their possible redemption will simply remove any remaining motivation to be something other than an animal.
  • by LittleGuy (267282) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:09PM (#21662349)
    The same statues for Megan's Law that mandate registration into a sex offender database also prohibit the use of the database for harrassment, violence, and murder against individuals in the database.

    Human nature precludes the 'here's the information about that bad bad man but don't try to take the law into your own hands' intent. In this day and age of five-nights-a-week "To Catch a Predator", there are wannabes out there who want to be part Chris Hansen and part Chuck Norris.

    This is our real life Two Minute Hate.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:19PM (#21662553) Homepage
    I was going to write a post as the Devil's Advocate for at least monitoring sex offenders somewhat. As I went to gather some facts based upon what I'd always heard regarding such things as recidivism rates, I have to say that I'm shocked.

    The recidivism rates for sex crimes are actually lower than that of other crimes. Now that is probably skewed quite a bit by the war on drugs (many drug-related offenses being victimless crimes), but it's still surprising. The only justification I can imagine for tracking sex offenders after release is because the crime is considered especially heinous, but given the statistics, I can't even manage to play Devil's Advocate on this one. It's just too absurd.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:38PM (#21662869)
    This list haunts me. I think it should be demolished as it further destroys the lives of men and women, many of which are not guilty of rape or pedophilia.

    First, let me say I am on this list for having sex with a 16 year old girl, when I was 28. Did I plot this? Did I fantasize after jailbait? Do I think about teenage girls all the time?

    NO

    I was in a bar. She was in the bar. She was drinking beer. I bought her a drink. The bartender checked her ID (again) and gave he the drink. We got along. I got her to bed. Next week I was arrested for statutory rape when she told her mother about this great older guy she was seeing.

    Should my life be ruined (which it has, I cannot get above a minimum wage job now to save my life) because I had sex with a mature looking 16 year old with a damn good fake ID?
  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by E++99 (880734) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:20PM (#21664393) Homepage
    Except the punishments haven't been getting harsher and harsher. They've been getting more and more lenient. Around 1970, the Supreme Court decided that the People could no longer execute rapists, like the "victim". So, why should it be surprising that a People with no legal recourse will take an illegal recourse? When we have no legal power to give criminals the appropriate punishment via law, what else would one expect to happen?

    The idea that a today convicted rapists and murders are turned loose in society after a stay in prison, even if they openly admit their intention to commit their crime again, is utterly insane. It certainly can't be called "justice." If we want to be lenient, and not simply execute all murderers and rapists, then we should at least make any release of such people from prison contingent on a thorough analysis that shows them to be rehabilitated and reformed. If such a system were in place, and worked, I would have no problem with wiping the slate clean for such people.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:26PM (#21665067)
    I disagree. I think streaking events is funny, and hardly on par with, you know, ASS-RAPING TODDLERS. Legislators have a hard time making distinctions.

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