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Taking the law into their own hands, poorly

2-7-2007 New Mexico:

I wrote a story a few weeks ago about the Otero County Sheriff's Department conducting a round up of sex offenders who had failed to register with the department as is required by law.

The Daily News printed the names of the offenders for the sole purpose of informing the public that these sometimes dangerous individuals are out there and be on the look out. And we're not the only one to publish the names.

There exists a Web-based list of these criminals. The Web site offers their names, addresses and photos. And for the same reason we print them from time to time just so you know.

That's right. Just so you know they are there and you can be vigilant, not so you can call them up in the middle of the night and harass them. The site also specifically states that the information contained within it is not to be used for harassing anyone.

Which, unfortunately, some of you out there appear to be doing.

This is not your job. The sex offenders listed on the registry and in this publication have been arrested, tried and convicted by the police, courts and finally, a jury.

Sure, mob justice has a long and proud history in the state of New Mexico, and much of the country.

It was wildly popular in the past, but this is the 21st century and, for better or worse, infrastructure exists to deal with all the perverts, fiends, felons, murderers and others who feel too comfortable operating outside the law.

When you, who ever you are, take the law into your own hands, you are undermining that infrastructure and making a mockery of the system, no matter how flawed and imperfect it is, that has been put in place to protect you.

If it weren't there, we would all be subject to arbitrary street justice and stonings on the edge of town at the hands of lynch mobs.

I have received two phone calls in the last few days from an irate woman in Carrizozo and a man named Quill Bradley. The irate woman is a friend of Quill. It seems Quill has been receiving threatening phone calls late at night because his name is similar to that of a sex offender hauled in a few weeks ago. I will not name the offender because, well, some of us don't have the maturity level required to know such things.

The next time you feel the urge to call up and harass a sex offender, refrain from doing so. First of all, it is not your job. And you may not even have the right person. ...more... by Opinion:

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