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OP/ED: Releasing names of youth offenders just makes sense

 Do we as a community have the right to know if there is a dangerous or violent offender in our midst? I would like to believe that most of us would respond with a resounding yes.

Yet, what if that same offender was a youth? Aaahh… now the answer is not so easy, is it?
But why not?
The same crime in the same community, the only difference is the age of the offender.
There are those that want you to believe that the publication of young offenders’ names will prevent them from adequately re-integrating back into society.
Fair enough, and I have written elsewhere (Castlegar Source OP/ED) about that very issue, so I will not get into it here, but only to say I don’t believe that this is a legitimate argument.
Instead, I think that the real issue that needs to be discussed is whether the individuals’ rights trump the collective rights and safety of the public. Even if that offender just happens to be a youth.
Take for example of a story I read a few days ago; in which an 18 year-old crashed a stolen Hummer that resulted in a manslaughter charge. However, prior to this as a youth on probation for a series of auto thefts, he stole a vehicle and crashed into a taxi, killing the driver. He was found guilty and given probation.
The driver in this story can never be linked publicly to all the incidents, nor can they be entered into court to show a pattern of behavior. Because the one crash and other auto thefts happened while he was a youth, the public can never know that he was on probation or that he was already responsible for the death of another driver.
Would knowing the young man’s name in this instance or the crimes he had committed really make a difference?
Probably not, but think about this for a minute…
That nice young man that’s dating your lovely baby girl could be a repeat sex offender – and you don’t have a right to know it!
Would it make a difference now?
Damn right it would!
I was always taught that in order to be forgiven of something you did wrong; you have to admit that you did it in the first place.
So in the end, is there anything mistaken with asking our youth to be made accountable not only to the law, but also to the community they wronged in the first place?