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Trinidad and Tobago: Senator objects to public naming of sex convicts

[guardian.co.tt – 2/5/19]

At least one In­de­pen­dent Sen­a­tor is not in sup­port of the names of sex­u­al of­fend­ers go­ing pub­lic.

Sophia Chote, SC, said that this has the po­ten­tial of open­ing the flood­gates for vig­i­lante jus­tice in T&T.

Chote made the com­ment in the Sen­ate on Tues­day dur­ing her con­tri­bu­tion on the Sex­u­al Of­fences (Amend­ment) Bill to cre­ate a sex­u­al of­fend­ers reg­istry.

She said mak­ing the names of sex­u­al of­fend­ers pub­lic will al­so stig­ma­tise the name of the con­vict­ed per­son.

“So if the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice has a list of sex­u­al of­fend­ers, then, cer­tain­ly that is go­ing to help them iden­ti­fy who may have per­pe­trat­ed a par­tic­u­lar crime and bring that per­son to jus­tice. To me, that is more in the pub­lic’s in­ter­est than putting some­thing up on the web in a po­lice sta­tion.”

She cit­ed a 2007 US ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled a “com­par­i­son of sex­u­al of­fend­ers and the non-of­fend­ing pub­lic” which showed that half of the sex of­fend­ers who were in­ter­viewed claimed they re­ceived “threats, had their prop­er­ty dam­aged and had been phys­i­cal­ly as­sault­ed and ran out of town ba­si­cal­ly as a re­sult of pub­lic dis­clo­sure.”

Chote said it meant that if vig­i­lantes know some­one had com­mit­ted a sex­u­al of­fence which goes pub­lic, they would not have any guilt of ad­min­is­ter­ing their own jus­tice.

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  1. Facts should matter

    “She said mak­ing the names of sex­u­al of­fend­ers pub­lic will al­so stig­ma­tize the name of the con­vict­ed per­son.”

    Why doesn’t any lawmaker in America present this factual argument? We already know they answer – they’re all two-faced cowards that continue to lie, distort and mislead to prop up Megan’s Law as “valuable” public safety tool.

    • Will Allen

      I don’t really have an issue with stigmatizing people who have done bad things. I think people should stand up and be accountable for anything that they have done, good or bad.

      Buuuuuuuut ….. if we are going to stigmatize and vilify SOME people then we’ve really HAVE to do it to ALL people. It is not legitimate that we all get to know that person A looked at pictures of naked children but we don’t get to know that person B beat children. And that list is endless. If YOU get to judge me, then I get to judge YOU.

      Further, it is 100% unacceptable that the Registries do ANYTHING at all beyond simply “informing” people. In fact, any further action taken because a person is Registered ought to be illegal and we ought to be imprisoning people for that. 100% unacceptable that I have to “check in” with criminal law enforcement agencies if I decide to visit someone, just for one tiny example.

      No person who is Registered should have any obligation to report or do anything. If that were the case, the Registries could possibly/maybe/conceivably be acceptable.

      I do understand why shallow-thinking people would think that the Registries are useful. Registries could be of some help in some limited ways, sometimes. I see why a shallow-thinking person would think, “Let’s just err on the side of extra caution.” But that is shallow-thinking. They never think deeply enough to realize that 1) the Registries aren’t nearly enough, 2) the Registries aren’t needed at all or significantly beneficial (easy to prove, BTW), and 3) the Registries cause much more harm than they could ever dream they prevent.

      No doubt that the Registries have directly caused plenty of people to be murdered, including children. Easy to see and prove. The Registries have also protected no one.

      • Facts should matter

        “If YOU get to judge me, then I get to judge YOU.”

        I’m tempted to put a sign in my front yard with this statement.

        Either that or “Look in the mirror.”

      • Timothy

        Damn skippy a state can have a website of known criminals, but it’s impact upon the whole must be considered. The impact on the whole has been deleterious because fighting for with fire always eventually burns all. Combating manifest evil by embracing manifest evil teaches ALL the people to embrace evil as remedy for any conflict.

        VERY POOR BUT POLITICALLY INVESTED LEADERSHIP!

        Stop electing former prosecutors!

  2. Mp

    This is what I sent to the editor of the paper – letters@guardian.co.tt (could not comment under the article 🙁 without registering which is a fee or fb might be without a fee, but not going there. ) I also sent it to the parliament (webmaster@ttparliament.org) as I could not find a direct email to Ms. Chote. Whenever possible I will send emails to articles such as this. We must try when our busy lives allow us a few extra minutes. Those who are willing to speak out and up, like this site, this Senator, should be acknowledged. Even if all you say is Thank you.

    Ms. Chote, Thank you for being the voice of reason. All “sex offenses” are not the same. Not all “offenders” are the same. The stigma that comes from the public branding of person is not a society moving forward, but backwards. Let law enforcement do their jobs without the impediment of spending time going after vigilante justice which can end not only potential loss of life or property to the person/family so stigmatized but then to the vigilante who ends up in jail ruining his life and his families. Have any of the crimes, from sexual contact with a child, to exposing oneself or getting caught up in child pornography because you have PSTD or a 20 year old having consensual sex with a 16 year old been prevented by a public registry? Spend the money on out reach programs, let people know there is help….before they commit the crime. No one wants a child hurt, no one is saying there are not consequences for your actions. I don’t want to live in a world where there isn’t. But there has to be a balanced approach. Purposefully setting out to publicly hate on a group of people, to almost assure they become homeless, that their families and children are harassed and shamed says more about those who promote this than it does about the registrant. Many of who have been victims of assault themselves. So now instead of outreach to break the cycle after they have most likely served prison time, the government tells you, you are forever a worthless person, not redeemable….and the whole world gets permission to do the same.

    To the paper I started with this –
    I would like to say…. (I would happily post this on your site but I will not post via facebook) Perhaps your paper will consider reaching out to organizations who have facts and statistics and more proven, reasonable approaches on this subject matter.

    • Will Allen

      Great letter. I’d just suggest you break it into some paragraphs. Parts I really liked and find true:

      “is not a society moving forward, but backwards”

      “Purposefully setting out to publicly hate on a group of people”

      “says more about those who promote this than it does about the registrant”

      “the whole world gets permission to do the same”

      I think that every time an article comes out, we ought to have 100,000+ people contact the author. What do you think that would do over the course of a year?! Or ten? People need to see that we will not sit back and allow them to lie and harass us. People need to understand that having Registries can only happen at an extremely high cost to society.

      What these Registry Supporters/Harassers/Terrorists want is just allowing them to have their Registries, get their jollies, and we just have to live with it. Don’t allow it. Every day the Registries exist is an act of war. Hurt them and make them pay.

      I would suggest to people that are short on time (including myself!) that you write a short, general, anti-Registry letter and when an article comes out when you don’t have time to respond, just send that. It doesn’t matter if you send it to the same person 100 times. Set the tone of the discussion.

      • mp

        Thank you for your imput. I am working on my letter to the Colorado station. I agree have a letter ready. That is my goal. It can always be individualized here and there when time allows if needed. So your input was valuable.

  3. Eric Knight

    Here is the study from 2007 referenced by Senator Chote that highlighted the consequences of the registry (PDF link): https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/51292843.pdf

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