CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, October 6, 2005

CrimProf Paul Marcus on Internet Crime Stings

MarcusWilliam & Mary's CrimProf Paul Marcus comments on internet crime stings designed to catch sexual predators who prey on children using internet chat rooms.  The Spotsylvania County, VA Vice and Narcotics Unit, like 44 other task forces throughout the country, have trained officers to pose as teenagers online, talking in "teen lingo" to spot pedaphiles who engage in sexual conversations with and, often, arrange to meet, their teenage victims for sex.   

From "Marcus points out that these are expensive undercover operations led by highly trained officers and prosecutors. He said little data exist to prove how effective the stings are in reducing crime.  'Nobody wants the government creating a class of criminals that don't exist,' said Marcus, although he acknowledges that 'nobody wants a bunch of child molesters out there.'"

Richmond criminal defense attorney David P. Baugh takes a similar view.  He acknowledges that police have the right to do undercover work online, but he's not a big fan of the practice. 'It makes me uncomfortable,' he said. 'It sounds like Big Brother.'   "Smith [the Spotsylvania county sheriff] said people are free to critique the practice, but he said it'll continue as long as he's Spotsylvania's sheriff. He said he'd rather stop a crime through "Big Brother" than work a murder case involving a young girl."  Story... [Mark Godsey]

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