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Jailbook blues Johnson County and Linn County jails adopt new prisoner database that poses a threat to the prisoners’ privacy rights. Many employers run background checks on job applicants; hopeful teachers, for example, undergo an investigation of criminal records, driving records, past employment records, civil records, educational certification and credit history to name just a few. Anyone with Internet access may peruse the Iowa Sex Offender Registry to see the names and locations of registered offenders living in local communities. Police reports are public record, online and often published in local newspapers. These resources are made available

in the name of public safety, but it should not be forgotten that criminals are included in this populace and deserve a certain level of protection as well. On Dec. 1, Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek enacted a project that allows the county jail to put an inmate’s name, charges, photograph and bond amount on the jail’s website. Explained as a move to create clarity for taxpayers, this “Jailbook” is available to anyone with an Internet connection. However, we at the West Side

Story believe that this program discloses more information than is necessary. While this is within the law, it is unethical. Information posted is permanent, and will allow a prisoner’s past to further haunt his or her future. Second chances are hard to come by in this age, and programs such as this make it nearly impossible for someone who have served his or her punishment and learned lessons to move on and make positive contributions to society. Instead of simply putting these

people behind bars, we’re putting them on display, and no one can say what the long-term ramifications will be. Profiles on this program will forever mark them no matter what they do to correct mistakes or how much they regret their actions. When we forgo human dignity, even after a punishment has been served, so that others may track the use of their tax money down to individual people, we have lost our moral compasses.

Is the new prisoner database an invasion of prisoners’ privacy?

10-5 The WSS editorial board voted that the new database was an invasion of the prisoners’ privacy. art by//LEELA SATHYAPUTRI

opinion DECEMBER 2012 33

Dec. 14, 2012 West Side Story  

West High's newsmagazine

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