I’ll guess that just about every one of us can remember at least
one time as a child, picking up a rock on the ground and staring in
amazement to see all of the creepy bugs or worms the rock had been
hiding in its protective cover.
I’ll guess that just about every one of us can remember at least one time as a child, picking up a rock on the ground and staring in amazement to see all of the creepy bugs or worms the rock had been hiding in its protective cover. Having their comfort zone disturbed when exposed to the light, and their hiding place no longer secure, those critters would scurry away.
Welcome to 2005, and with it comes the ability for every Gilroy citizen with Internet access to pick-up, as it were, the “rock” of shelter that had been hiding registered sex offenders living in Gilroy.
As The Dispatch indicated in a front page article Dec. 18, a new Megan’s Law website (http://meganslaw.ca.gov) recently launched now eliminates the need for concerned citizens to call GPD to make an appointment to view sex offender information. And being restricted to a 15-minute limit in the presence of a police officer, who must feel like he or she has drawn the short straw for adult babysitting duty, is also a thing of the past.
By providing this information, the state has created two winners – the citizens of California, now empowered to check out this information for themselves, and the police agencies that no longer need to waste precious time watching a citizen sitting in front of a computer screen in a police department checking this information.
While it might be hard to believe that some liberal groups might think this whole thing is an over reaction or right wing conspiracy to unduly publicize those who have “paid their debt to society,” the fact is this database is an information tool only.
These human “bugs” and “worms,” no matter how much you might like to, can’t be squished by the same rock that has protected them in the past. In fact, the website is very specific about this saying “The law is not intended to punish the offender and specifically prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against an offender.”
In fact it gets even more specific, saying “the information on this website is made available solely to protect the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his or her family is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability.”
So even for these offenders, their civil liberties are preserved. Hopefully, this will prevent vigilante justice from taking place, which is not healthy for any free society.
Now I decided to see for myself just who these local offenders are, so I did my own analysis from the website for offenders living in Gilroy. Currently, there are 85 offenders listed, all men. Of these, 23 are in violation of their registration requirements. While that’s not good, it seems likely that many of these men might no longer be in Gilroy, which certainly is good. And, as the website indicates, any information about their whereabouts should be provided to the Gilroy police.
For those offenders who are not currently in violation, there is a disclaimer for each man indicating that the registrant may have subsequently relocated, which brings up the point regarding how often the website is updated, and its degree of accuracy, especially when the website itself states that mistaken identity is a possibility and “extreme care must be taken in the use of information because mistaken identification may occur when relying solely upon name, age and address to identify individuals.” Let the user beware.
But maybe the most important part of this whole thing is the fact that the website gives some good information on how to protect your family from these kinds of predators.
“Not all sex offenders have been caught and convicted,” according to the site. And, “Most sex offenses are committed by family, friends or acquaintances of the victim.”
So parents, it’s absolutely critical that you “stress to your child that he or she should feel comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult. If your child does not feel comfortable being completely honest with you, then together you should find another trusted adult your child can talk to in confidence.”
So with this information tool and active parental involvement, you can make sure your family will be safe in 2005.