Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Vigilante Justice?

Recently, a group in Calgary launched a Sex Offender warning website that provides information about convicted sex offenders to the public.   The RCMP runs a registry created by legislation in 2004 (and strengthened in 2011) - but it is closed to the public.  In the wake of Graham James conviction of only 2 years [now under Appeal] for numerous sexual assaults against well-known, star Hockey Player - Theorn Fleury - it was discovered that pardoned offenders names and records are washed clean from the Ontario Registry.  Also, before 2009 only names were recorded and now that people with similar names are being harassed police are fingerprinting people on the registry.

Police are routinely reluctant to warn the public about possible threats - and in fact there are so many former dangerous offenders on the streets - that it would be an impossible task.   In their defense, the police insist that they are very careful because they provide factual disclosure (unlike others) and do not want to make situations worse by driving newly released offenders who are attempting to reintegrate - underground or un-necessarily panic the public.  Finally though there is ample evidence that concern over "vigilante" justice getting out of hand is not far-fetched - already a group in B.C has taken action.

This brings back the memory of another self-styled "vigilante" Stephen Marshall - who in 2006 fatally shot two fellows listed on the State of Maine Public Sex Registry - as it turns out for minor violations.  The troubled teen apparently used the registry to hunt-down and "punish" these persons.  The Police cornered Marshall in Boston enroute to Nova Scotia (presumably to visit his mother?) before he took his own life.  As a precaution the registry was pulled during the subsequent investigation.
Police and relatives have repeatedly said they're baffled that Marshall would research the addresses of 34 people on an Internet sex offender list in Maine, locate two of them, and then travel over 1,000 kilometres to his father's house in Houlton, Maine, before going on a killing spree.
These are not isolated  incidents and at least two other similar "sex registry" hunts have been reported - both vigilantes (men) who murdered their victims claimed they were sexually abused as children.  I have found this site that was setup to track Sex Offender issues.

Why the concern - you might ask?  Here is why.  A step father was jailed for 8 years on the charge of sexual assault of his step-son - but he didn't do it.  The boy was bowing to pressure and threats by his biological father who rejected the relationship his ex-wife had chosen.   Four years in the boy fully recanted his testimony - but the step-father was not released.  He served the rest of his time because the only way to overturn the sentence was by a Ministerial "intervention".  This says more about our Justice system's inability to self-correct itself than anything.  Charges of legitimate Sexual Abuse must be taken seriously - but clearly in this case they were strongly influenced by a family breakdown.  That is not unusual and many men are taken advantage of by a justice system that fails to distinguish between the two.

I have had my faith in our Justice system severely shaken by my experience of Divorce and I am very cautious about opening up records that have not been fully vetted into the public domain - notwithstanding I fully agree with the value of such "transparency" to the community.


2008Jan14 - Canada's Sex Offender Registry a National Embarrassment by MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI

No comments:

Post a Comment