Suicide of the West

Today’s sign of the apocalypse, from Great Britain: “Prisoners on run cannot be named ‘due to privacy rights.'”

Civil servants have refused to name inmates who have fled prison even though individual police forces will often identify them if they pose a risk to the public.

They say releasing their names would breach obligations under the Data Protection Act.

It echoes a row in 2007 when Derbyshire Police refused to release pictures of two escaped murderers.

This reminds me of an incident when I was growing up in South Dakota. A murderer escaped from the state penitentiary and was reported to be heading back to his (and my) home town. The judge who sentenced him, the lawyer who prosecuted him and the lawyer who served as his court-appointed defense attorney–one of my father’s partners–all had armed police officers posted at their homes until the escaped murderer was apprehended. I’m trying to imagine the authorities, at that time and place, even comprehending the idea that rather than notifying citizens who might be in danger and putting out an APB for the escaped criminal, they had some sort of duty to keep secret the identity of the escapee. I can’t do it. As Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said:

We have gone mad if this is what we are doing.

We seem to be going mad on a number of fronts these days.


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