Some California legislators are trying to push through a law that would prohibit convicted child molesters out on parole from frequenting social media sites such as Facebook; if passed, a violation of the law could throw the offenders right back into prison.
There are strong arguments on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, victim advocates such as Harriet Salarno of Crime Victims United was quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune as saying that “[p]redators have left the playground and are now going to the Internet.”
On the other side are considerations of how much time and resources parole officers have available to monitor such activity, although Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, said that supplying such tools to parole and probation officers is one of the main goals of the bill.
Another argument against the bill comes from those concerned with the civil liberties of the convicted offenders; the Internet has become so critical to daily life even parolees may need it to find work or to perform job functions, notes Paul Sutton of San Diego State University.
As you may recall, this isn’t the only bill related to sex offenders up for debate in the California legislature right now; Chelsea’s Law continues to be a hot topic as well. Incidentally, the San Diego Union-Tribune notes that John Albert Gardner III, who was convicted of killing teenagers Amber Dubois and Chelsea King (for whom Chelsea’s Law is named), was in violation of his parole for a previous child molestation conviction by keeping a MySpace page. Gardner used the name Jason and listed his location as the Playboy Mansion.
What do you think about the proposed bill? Should law enforcement at least try to keep registered sex offenders off of social networking sites or is it such an impossible task that it isn’t worth the time, money, and effort?