Editor Mat Nott
Editor Mat Nott

Sex offenders list, yes; lynching, no

THE idea of a sex offenders' register has come boiling up out of the departments of the Attorney-General, child protection and police in West Australia.

WA Police Minister Rob Johnson said the proposed laws would assist parents and police to better protect our kids.

The Liberal-National Government's idea is that the website gives three tiers of disclosure about the shamed.

The first tier would give all personal details about renegades who are at large and have disappeared off the radar.

Tier 2 would inform the public of repeat, or highly dangerous, sex offenders in their neighbourhood.

Tier 3 would let parents and guardians apply for information from authorities as to whether somebody with access to their child is a reportable offender.

Not much is in there as to how to protect the sex offender from the lynch mob. The website as a concept sneers at the prospect of rehabilitation and at the right to privacy owed to you once you have paid the judicial price for a sex crime.

But I'd trample on those civil liberties and sign up for a Queensland version tomorrow if there was even a 1% chance it would help keep my children safer.

It is impossible to see into the mind of a person who has committed sex offences against children and divine whether they have been rehabilitated by a prison sentence.

Society can hope that this is the case, in every case. But recidivism occurs in this bandwidth of criminality.

There is no way a self-respecting parent would gamble and say, "I trust my judgment in human nature sufficiently to leave my child unattended with a convicted pervert".

If people are found guilty of such offences and live near me I want to know. That does not mean that I will head around throwing rocks on their roof.

This is where the introduction of such a website should have a caveat. Other legislation, or new legislation, would be needed to throw a protective shield around the sex offender. Vigilantism must be guarded against, even if our primal instincts revel at the prospect.

After all, the freedom of a fist ends where the nose of another begins, even if that person is a sex offender.

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