There are certain serious crimes that have a tendency to grab the spotlight in national news and make people feel outraged. Authorities and citizens may be shocked and demand that action be taken to prevent similar situations from occurring again. This is certainly the case with sexual offenses involving children.
However, there are many times when the actions that people propose are misdirected or overly aggressive. It is crucial that these steps be carefully considered in terms of the big picture so that one problem is not created in an attempt to resolve another. One very strong example of this is the recent move to allow employers to conduct polygraph tests on potential employees after a sting at Disney World in Orlando resulted in numerous arrests.
Readers may have heard the much-publicized report stating that more than 40 park workers have been arrested in recent years on a number of sex crime charges, including possession of child pornography.
Not surprisingly, people were upset and concerned and wanted someone to take action. Now politicians in the state are looking to pass a new law that would allow employers to conduct polygraph tests on potential workers in an attempt to keep people with a history of sexual misconduct out of jobs that involve children. Supporters argue that these tests would keep kids safe.
But critics say that the proposed measure is inappropriate due to the historically unreliable nature of polygraph tests. The technology is not sound and could ultimately and wrongly keep a qualified person from working. In addition, there may be serious potential for employers to abuse the technology and violate a person's privacy.
The fact is that these heavy-handed reactions to situations like this one are not uncommon. In the heat of a high-profile crime, lawmakers try to send a message while authorities and prosecutors are more determined than ever to arrest and punish people for misconduct.
However, people who get arrested or charged during these periods should remember that no matter what the circumstances are, everyone has the right to speak with an attorney. It can be extremely difficult to face an outraged community and an overly aggressive justice system alone. With the help of an attorney, people can work to protect themselves from baseless accusations and overly harsh punishment.
Source: My Fox Tampa Bay, "Proposed law would allow polygraph tests for those working with children," Aaron Mesmer, July 18, 2014