The present trend of "outing" paedophiles gives any gang of vigilantes an excuse to attack those who are often weak and inadequate, terrorising them into changing their identity and being lost to police or probation surveillance. There have also been cases of mistaken identity, where people with no known involvement with child abuse have been attacked.
A large proportion of paedophiles are unable to control their obsession and, despite treatment in prison, continue on release to insinuate themselves into situations where they can reoffend. In this they differ from burglars, fraudsters, drug-peddlers and shoplifters only in the nature of their offence.
Could not the concept of internal exile be explored for convicted paedophiles considered unlikely to change their sexual preferences? An island or peninsula large enough to accommodate a self-supporting community could be set aside in which such people could be required to spend the rest of their lives, in return for shorter or suspended sentences.
They would have all the freedoms of open society except that they would be forbidden to return to any area inhabited by children under a determined age. Special security arrangements would be made to ensure that the exile was not broken.
I suspect that the cost of setting up such a system would be considerably less than that of imprisonment, surveillance, reoffending and re-imprisonment.
The author was Head of Education at Wandsworth Prison, 1990-1996Reuse content