The Friday Fugitive initiative results were impressive - do we keep the news story on the web site once a person has been apprehended?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 8th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

The Halton Regional Police released the results of their Friday Fugitive initiative today – the results are impressive – 23 of the 37 people they were looking for were arrested.

Pictures of each of the wanted people, provided to us by the police, were published by the Gazette.

Wanted Al Capone

Publishing this picture now is entertainment.

Some of these people had very long criminal histories and would appear to still be living the life of a criminal.  Several were preying on older people unable to protect themselves.  Many of the people the police were looking for were wanted for failing to appear before a judge once they were released on bail.

Wanted

Is publishing this picture also entertainment – the person happens to be a very dangerous individual.

The police spend a lot of time and financial resources apprehending the people wanted for committing criminal acts.  They get to court and are released on bail – which means the police have to go looking for them all over again.

jail cells

Jails are expensive places to operate. Should we jail people who fail to appear for a court hearing? If we don’t – what happens to public respect for the justice system?

Keep them in jail would seem to be the sensible thing to do. Problem with that is keeping people in jail is an expensive proposition. The criminal justice system seems to prefer to let them out and then have them re-arrested.  Cheaper – but it also impacts on the respect the public has for the criminal justice system. For the rule of law to be effective there has to be strong public respect for that rule of law. Without it – we slide into anarchy and that is not a pretty picture.

Super max prison in Penetang

Commonly called “super max” it is a provincial jail in Penetang where dangerous people are kept for long periods o time. There are frequent riots at this jail.

We are a civilized society with some very intelligent people working at the justice ministry – the public deserves to have the problem of how we handle people who consistently fail to appear in court when they are released on bail.

Our member of the provincial legislature might want to tackle this problem and see what she can get done.

As we reviewed the Fugitive Friday initiative, looking at the pictures of the people the police wanted to apprehend we were struck by the number of very young men who had run afoul of the law. Some of them were not much beyond boys and we wondered if we were serving a useful purpose by publishing their pictures know that once on the internet they are there for a long time – a long long time.

The Gazette has heard from several of those the police arrested in the past asking us to take down their picture. Is that our role?

Are we to be the judges of whose picture stays up and whose picture does not remain in the public domain?

One young man had several people write on his behalf – and we took the picture off the internet – but that really isn’t the role media plays.

At some point some prominent personality will have a relative or a family member that got themselves into a spot of trouble, made it into the media and asked if we could just quietly delete what was written.

It troubles us – is that our role? We don’t think so.

Do we remove all those who have been arrested and just keep those the police are still looking for?

Whose interests did we serve by publishing the results of the 2015 Fugitive Friday successes?

Do we know if the people who were wanted were actually found guilty?

What if they were acquitted – do we have the right to keep the “wanted by the police” information on the Gazette web site?

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1 comment to The Friday Fugitive initiative results were impressive – do we keep the news story on the web site once a person has been apprehended?

  • Detective Murdoch

    People willingly disobeying a court order take the chance their mug shot gets published.

    Post the picture with the notice: “This image will be taken down once the person voluntarily turns themself in to authorities within 48 hours of its posting, and advises the newsletter accordingly.”

    That solution should work for everyone’s benefit.

    “Can’t do the time? don’t do the crime.”
    “Don’t want the photo? Courts where you go to.”

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