Thanks to one of our listeners EvilBobbsy (I’m sure he’s a nice guy) who suggested today’s story, it’s been trending on Twitter for two solid days now. If you commit a crime, do you waive your right to anonymity? Or do you think serving time for your crime is punishment enough and you should retain your right to privacy?
We’re discussing this today as a notorious criminal is back in the news. In the UK in 1993, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were 10 years old when they killed 2-year-old James Bulger. In a very unusual move, the judge released their names and photos even though they were children. Having served their time, at 18, they were given new identities when they re-entered society to prevent the public harming and even possibly killing them. Venables recently breached the terms of his release and is back in prison.
The UK Ministry of Justice refuses to reveal why he’s back in prison, or the prison where he is serving time or indeed his name. His anonymity has provoked a global debate on the rights of criminals.
Should criminals’ identities and whereabouts always be made public? Do the public have a right to know? Why?
The United States is well known for ‘name and shame’ registers. There is a sex offenders registry nationwide so you can easily know what offenders live in your neighbourhood. It’s pretty comprehensive with photos, addresses, convictions and dates.
Do you think that’s the right way to go? Should the luxury of anonymity depend on the level of the crime? Some argue that the more heinous the crime, the more necessary anonymity is to prevent reprisals. Do you feel the need to know information about criminals that may be in your neighbourhood. Or, do you trust the authorities of your country to protect you?