There may be a new trend, but this time, it’s not fashion or hairstyles. Over the past year, registered sex offenders have been the target of violence, raising ethical questions about Web sites providing detailed information on sex offenders in nearly every state.Slightly more than a week ago, two registered sex offenders in the state of Maine were found shot to death in their towns, 25 miles away from each other. A 20-year-old man was seen driving away from the scene of one of the killings, but just after police pulled over a bus carrying the 20-year-old and boarded the bus, he shot himself in the head.
Maine State Police removed 2,200 registered sex offenders’ names from the state’s Web site, but officials said the names will be posted again.
Last summer, one man pleaded guilty in Washington State for the killings of two registered child rapists after he used Whatcom County’s online site to look up the offenders.
Should detailed information on sex offenders be posted on Web sites where anyone can perform simple searches for offenders in his or her state, county and even zip code despite the risk posed to these offenders?
Imagine having a family with small children when you are considering moving into a new neighborhood. Wouldn’t you like to know who your neighbors are and if your children are safe to ride their bicycles and play in the yard?
American society is not quite what it was in the 1950s when suburban children played in the streets and there was little worry for real danger. It is important to know your neighbors.
Looking up registered sex offenders for the purpose of hunting them down and killing them is not exactly ethical behavior, but the safety and well-being of our nation’s children is more important than the few killings that have happened as a result of these Web sites.
Editor in Chief Courtney Reese for the editorial board.