US parents, unlike here in the UK, have access to information on pedophiles within their neighbourhood listed on the Internet.
The database is known as Megan’s Law. I think any parent would want to know if their new neighbour has been convicted for raping children but critics often point out that making information like this available to anyone, anywhere and at any time, is encouraging vigilantism. It’s also a question of having paid for their crimes and re-kindling with society.
Some would surely say that no matter how much time has been served in jail, a pedophile will always be a pedophile. It’s not surprising that even though they have to register their address with the local police upon release, many simply give bogus details and keep on preying on youngsters.
One convicted rapist however wasn’t after children, even though his name appeared on Megan’s Law. Michael Dodele, convicted for sexually assaulting adult women, had been free 35 days when he was found dead from stab wounds in his mobile home.
His neighbour, Ivan Garcia Oliver, who found his name on the pedophile listing and told everyone that he found Dodele’s name on the Internet, has been arrested.
In a jailhouse interview with the Los Angeles Times, Oliver said he had a son who was molested in the past and he took action to protect the child.
“Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of ‘normal’ people,” Oliver said. “I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces. It’s no different.”
An error on the web site?
A spokesman for the state attorney general said the site described the man’s offenses as “rape by force” and “oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force.”
Oliver pled not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and elder abuse.
If we had to be completely fair and objective, a lot of people would be against such databases, arguing that once a jail sentences has been completed, that person would have redeemed himself and should have the right to attempt a normal life again.
BUT whenever we’re presented with gruesome, horrific details of child rape, we cannot help but wish the rapist the most slow and horrible death possible. I think it’s a normal reaction, I recall one particular case on the news a while ago:
Prisons were overflowing and this convicted pedophile was interviewed and sat there grinning since he got off the hook without a jail sentence. Absolutely disgusting.
So it’s Megan’s Law vs. criminals rights, justice vs. vengeance. It doesn’t really matter which side you pick, on one hand we have the justice system and rehabilitation, on the other our modern society shaped by fear of criminals who cannot reform. Post their names online and people go after them themselves, deny public access and you’re faced with shocking cases of re-offenders.
How important is privacy when it comes to crimes?
Maybe the problem here was not that someone’s privacy was violated but that someone killed and did so, based on inaccurate information. Can you judge who was right and who was wrong?