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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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  • by Gigiya (1022729) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:46AM (#21656105)
    Wouldn't he have had to inform all of his neighbors within a certain radius that he was a sex offender, anyways? Or is that only for those convicted of molesting children?
  • Re:Trailer Park (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:50AM (#21656199)
    Slashdot totally needs more Idiocracy references. :)

    There's another channel that would opiate some of these troglodytes. In the movie THX-1138, there is an entertainment channel that's just continuous footage of two android cops hitting a human prisoner with billy clubs. It made me wonder if a Violence Channel would do well. All it would be is things crashing, blowing up, fights and whatnot all culled from movies and news footage and sports.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:52AM (#21656237) Homepage Journal
    There seems to be two groups or two positions at work here: one which holds that all offenders can be reformed, the other that certain types of offenders cannot. Our current law is a mishmash of good intentions with no single theoretical framework holding it together. It takes the 'people can be reformed' position in allowing for the release of rapists ( both those who prefer adults and those who prey on children ), and then takes the opposite position with the creation of lists of people who are 'going to do it again'.

    I don't understand the psychology of rapists, so I can't say which position is correct. But I wish that our criminal justice system would either choose one or the other.
  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:09PM (#21656561)
    I don't think molestation is all that rare (not like struck-by-lightning rare, anyway). It just is vastly more likely to occur in the home or that of a relative than by a stranger. But "stepfathers are the most frequent molesters" doesn't have the stranger-as-threat, outsider-as-enemy utility people like so much.

    I was once told by a woman of an ethnic background I'm not going to share with you that she didn't know any women of her ethnic background who hadn't been molested. I'd bet good money that was quite an exaggeration, but the bare fact that she said it, and the matter-of-fact tone she was using, creeped me out. No, I'm not presening anecdotal evidence. It's already well-known that most molestation occurs in the home, and not by marauding gay activists. It was just a weird thing to hear from a friend of my then-wife, who is of the same cultural background.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:12PM (#21656633) Homepage Journal
    And this, ladies and gentlemen, geeks and trolls, bots and overlords, is why privacy is important.

    At least, that was my first thought. Then I realized that it doesn't have too much to do with privacy per se. After all, it doesn't matter if the data about the victim of the murder were accurate. It could have been entirely made up. Then, it's not really about privacy anymore, but about what people write about others, and how people react to that.

    I recently moved into a new city. It would be easy for someone to tell the people in my new neigborhood that I am a child molester. If there is a respectable-looking website for posting this kind of information (and I'm sure there is), they could put a post up there for extra credibility. Doing so would be wrong, because I am not a child molester (of course, that's just me saying that, but just accept it for the sake of argument).

    Then, someone might read the aforementioned post and conclude that I am, in fact, a child molester. That would be wrong, because they would have arrived at that conclusion by blindly believing what was written about me, without checking the facts. If they had checked the facts, they would have found that the claim was completely baseless.

    Now let's assume that someone did, in fact, buy the claim that I am a child molester. Remember, they did so without checking the facts, the claim is baseless, and I am actually _not_ a child molester. But they think I am, and kill me to protect their child.

    Mr. Dodele's case could be seen as a privacy case, because the information in the database supposedly was based on things he actually did. But in my (hypothetical) case, the claims were completely fabricated.

    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.

    Assuming that the killer really did kill to protect his child, I think he did her a nice disservice - now she will have to live with the fact that her daddy is a murderer and an idiot, and probably an inmate, too.

    The message I would like to send is (1) take everything with a healthy dose of scepsis, and (2) avoid doing things that are irreversible.

    Have a nice day.
  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orclevegam (940336) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:15PM (#21656681) Journal
    Maybe we should just go that last step and make them wear a big scarlet P, or maybe R on their chests. Is it just me, or does it seem like the media is behind at least 50% of the social problems in America? Between the news channels, the MAFIAA and crooked politicians being themselves it's amazing anything gets done for all the arm waving, knee jerk reactions, and lawsuits.
  • Some people live next to swamps withs alligators. They manage by taking appropriate measures such as proper fencing and keeping their eye on small children.

    Of course, some take a different kind of initiative by going out into the swamp and shooting everything that floats, crawls or looks like an alligator in any way.

    The difference between alligators and sex offenders is that alligators have laws protecting them.
  • What do we expect? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QCompson (675963) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:19PM (#21656747)
    After the alleged murderer was informed that his neighbor had never molested a child and was in fact on the sex-offender list for crimes against adult women, the suspect replied that (I'm paraphrasing here) "these people can't be cured."

    So, the victim was on the sex offender list for raping adult women, but this psycho was so convinced that sex offenders are dangerous predators that can't be cured, that he actually believed his son was in danger. His own words, referring to the victim looking at his son:

    "It was more than watching," Oliver said. "You could see his eyes. He was fantasizing, plotting. Later on down the line, who knows how many other children he could have hurt."

    So raping adult women = lusting after young boys?

    We shouldn't be surprised by this type of tragedy after the media and politicians have gleefully embarked on a decade long scare campaign designed to convince the public that sex-offenders are pure evil incarnate. That they can't be cured. That they are worse than murderers. That they lurk behind every tree and every bush, waiting to attack children. That all sex offenders=child molesters and all child molesters=baby-butt rapers.

    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.
  • by QCompson (675963) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:35PM (#21657039)

    the rate of recidism in sexual crimes is high
    From the Department of Justice http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm [ojp.gov]:

    Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense -- 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders.

    But don't let facts get in the way of your argument.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:36PM (#21657061)

    You do know that MOST crimes are committed by repeat offenders right?

    Cite please.

    Reform may be one way to try and make someone not re-offend, but for sexual predators, this is almost-never possible.

    Cite please.

  • Re:Society of Fear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:38PM (#21657097)
    Changing in public and urination in public have to register too.

    I play rugby, if anyone has been to a Rugby game or been around the Rugby community, you may notice that we're pretty improvisional about most things. Often pitches are just some open field with some 2x4 uprights, etc. Never have I seen a locker room and bathrooms are usually port-a-potties.

    Prior to a 7s tournament (7 vs 7 for 7 minute halves, large tournaments have easily 500 people) someone was changing near the pitch and then kneeled down and peed on a tree.

    Cop who obviously didn't notice the 499 other people doing this, decided to make an example out of this guy. He now has to register on the list.

    Guy was going to be a elementary school teacher (and had just graduated). Although I guess it's better than being dead, right?

    FEAR EVERYTHING AMERICA. THINK OF THE CHILDREN. (on the other hand I grew up around it, both my parents played and I don't think I could see much of anything that doesn't shock me and if I don't like it, I don't sit and stare and cry foul, I turn away.)
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:46PM (#21657279)
    It just is vastly more likely to occur in the home or that of a relative than by a stranger. But "stepfathers are the most frequent molesters" doesn't have the stranger-as-threat, outsider-as-enemy utility people like so much.

    YMMV, but in Vermont last year I saw a news report talking about Megan's law and why VT needed something like that. The LEO pushing for it even said that 90% of molestation cases are by a DIRECT relative, not a stranger, but we still need such laws. We're not even talking about step fathers here, actual fathers.

    You really have to wonder what will protect kids from their own parents.
  • Could be worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by archammer2 (1041754) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:48PM (#21657343)
    What are the odds of having two people in an apartment building that happen to have the same name? Well, it happened to me. First, last and middle initial. The other guy is a registered sex offender. Despite the two of us living in different apartments (A5 vs A7), I've had several people coming to my door looking for him. ... Including the local police.
    Yes, even though the database of sex offenders has his address as A7 and has pictures (he looks nothing like me), the police insisted that I was a sex offender until I provided an ID to show we had different birthdates.

    So now I have to worry about whackos trying to kill the other guy and getting me instead? Great.
  • Re:This is great. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chapter80 (926879) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:52PM (#21657415)

    my wife is five years younger than me... I must be a child molester.
    hey, yer on slashdot AND you have a woman. You're not a child molester, you're a paradox.

    The rule of thumb I always heard was "half your age, plus seven". [wikipedia.org] So a 16 year old is ok if you're 18 or less. At 28, you could have gone down to age 21 without a problem. So dating that 23 year old was not a problem. At 50, you should stick to 32 or above. And an 80 year old shouldn't look below 47. Holds up pretty well.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @01:18PM (#21657977)
    About a year ago a friend told me he'd been waiting outside a building and a taxi had stopped outside to pick up two women. The women didn't get in the taxi, they started yelling at the driver, screaming at him, kicking the car. My friend called the police, then walked over and asked what the problem was. One of the women said that the taxi driver had just been released from prison after being raping her young daughter -- the daughter went to a special school, and the taxi was provided to take her to that school.
    My friend said he sympathised with the woman, but that he'd called the police so they might want to leave. The women ran away, just as the police arrived. The police asked the taxi driver to move his car around the corner, away from the main road "out of the way". He did. The police then smashed all the windows of the taxi, and left.

    How common is this kind of thing? I assume that the women and the police felt that the prison sentence the man had received wasn't long enough so they decided to apply their own 'justice'.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gypsy2012 (644480) <slashdot@gypsy20 ... com minus author> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:11PM (#21659007) Homepage
    The problem is that you miss-interpret the purpose of prison. Prison is punishment for a crime not protection of the public. There is no mechanism in our society to seclude those who would be dangerous to society from society. Instead, all we do is punish them after the fact for committing a crime. Any animal trainer will of course tell you this is the least effective form of training, and aren't humans just animals with more tools? For a while Mental Institutions were serving this purpose but they are less funded and more over crowded then jails so they serve less and less in this capacity. Megan's list was an acknowledgment of this core issue with our society. Where we have no way to manage these men who are very likely to commit their crime again once released we can at least notify parents so they can keep close tabs on their children and hopefully protect them from harm. All around, being reactive rather then proactive is very ineffective in fighting something like this. There is no real good answer other then actually curing the man of his core issues that cause this behavior which is not something we have designed our system to do at all. It's a shame this guy went overboard in protecting his family, but as a parent I like having tools like this because I don't trust the police to protect my family anymore. Their hands are tied with red tape and the issues around waiting until the damage is actually done before they can react.
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:22PM (#21659239) Homepage
    Our capacity for self-delusion is enormous. If you'd made a life-ruining decision based on a belief, it would be very hard to accept information that invalidated that belief.

    Plus, the guy sounds like he's gone totally spare.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:29PM (#21659371)

    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").
    Short term studies put a fairly low ~14-18% number. Long term studies pin it at ~50%.

    meta study [csom.org] ~39% for rapists ~53% for child molesters after 25 years

    3 year study [usdoj.gov] ~5% after 3 years (mixeD)

    Canadian study [ps-sp.gc.ca] ~27% after 15-20 years. (mixed)

    Another Canadian one [johnhoward.ab.ca] ~42% after 15-30 years.

    Variations are due to different criteria for re offenses. Some count only second convictions, others count second arrests. All note that this classification of crime is often under reported. Most of the long term studies point to a coin flip whether a person will do it again.
  • Re:This is great. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pottymouth (61296) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:12PM (#21660201)


    As step father to a girl that started having sex at 13 (no, I wasn't around) and is now pregnant at 15 I would say that if you're having sex before you're married you get what you deserve. If you wait until you're married you are much more likely to be prepared for the responsibilities that come with having sex. The fact that, as a society, we've lost all direction as to right and wrong about sex is just a another signpost of our ultimate demise. We teach "little" girls to be "sexy" and then we're suprised when men act on that. We teach men that sex is just a bodily function and we're suprised that STD's are out of control. We sow what we have reaped.
  • Re:Keep in mind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QCompson (675963) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:28PM (#21661617)

    You seem to be implicitly using an argument frequently advanced by opponents of the death penalty. That argument is that the worst possible thing imaginable is to execute an innocent person and so it is better to execute no one than to risk executing an innocent. The problem with the previous argument is that executing no one will mean that some percentage of convicted, guilty murderers will end up back in society, either by serving non-life sentences or by being paroled or by escaping confinement, and that some of these freed murderers will murder again, perhaps multiple times before they are reapprehended. The net result of abolishing the death penalty can (many would argue would) be an increase in the number of innocents unjustly killed. Any system of crime and punishment is imperfect. While the rare execution of an innocent wrongly accused is always an enormous tragedy and injustice, it may have to be accepted as part of the best practical solution to the problem of protecting society from murderers.
    Who the hell makes these ridiculous arguments? First off, people who otherwise would get the death penalty would not be eligible for parole. That's just silly. Second, if you're making an argument that a significant percentage of those sentenced to life in prison might escape and kill others, that's almost even sillier (and preposterous).

    The main point, however, is that there is a big difference between random psychos killing innocent people and the State killing innocent people. If you can't see that difference and the problems inherent with the latter scenario, then don't worry about it.
  • Re:Bleeding hearts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:56PM (#21662097) Homepage
    Sex offender databases don't have a good enough S/N
    ratio to be of any real good. Far too much useless
    information is stored and presented. Far too many
    BS "sex offender" convictions are handed down and
    add the noise of databases.

    This murder is a perfect example of that.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:24PM (#21662629)

    But, that would be blue collar crime. White collar criminals are typically Republican, and are not near as likely to get caught/tried/convicted or have to worry about their lack of a vote (as they can then use the profits to buy others' votes).

    I have forgotten the source, but it was noted that a large majority all illegal arms dealers, drug dealers and organized crime lords are backers of the most right wing aspect of their local governments (that would be republicans in the US).

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:14PM (#21664315)
    I'm on the list for streaking my high school graduation. I was over 18 and there were people younger than 18 also graduating and in the audience.

    My wife and I have to move around whenever sex offender laws get passed. It's to keep me away from schools. Dumb mistake in my life that really blows.

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