Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Where is Dennis Ferguson going to live? The news yesterday on the broadsheet websites tells us that the NSW government is making new law to evict the convicted pedophile from his Department of Housing home. He moved to Sydney, to the northern suburb of Ryde, because he was unable to live in Queensland.

Ferguson committed his crimes in Queensland, was incarcerated there, and on release from prison lived in several Queensland towns before being hounded out of the community by local residents outraged by his presence.

There is noone taking up his line except a week or so ago an academic was interviewed by the ABC for the nightly news. He said that the continued pressure on Ferguson might cause him to reoffend.

And now there's Brett Collins, coordinator of prisoner advocacy group Justice Action.

So I did a little research. They have a website where you see that they do not receive funding from sources "that could compromise our work in a wide range of areas, relying instead upon community support". To raise funds, there's a principal sponsor called Breakout DesignPrintWeb. The business has the same address as Justice Action on Goulburn Street, Sydney. They do printing and design.

Collins has been active for a long time, most recently in the cause of prison privatisation opposition. He has a profile page on The Guardian's website that tells us he is the "current New South Wales record holder for remaining on a prison roof", a curious fact that testifies to his long-time commitment to prisoner rights.

I suppose only a prisoner, or an ex-prisoner in this case, could advocate on behalf of Dennis Ferguson.

Surely Ferguson still has rights. Whether he is truly contrite is irrelevant. He is entitled to a place in the community and I think that the media - with the signal exception of the ABC - is being irresponsible in focusing so completely on making sure he never lives in peace anywhere in Australia.

The government sees that community sentiment is overwhelmingly against justice for Ferguson and has taken measures to enact new laws that would ensure he has no home.

This is disturbing, especially in the light of our current ignorance as to the causes of pedophilia. There may come a time, in a better future, when we come to know that it is a medical condition, or a genetically-conditioned trait over which the bearer has no control.

It's too early to know. In the meantime, can we please just leave the man alone and concentrate on things that will really make a difference. We do know, now, that most violence against children of this type is committed by people the child knows and trusts.

Let's concentrate on what we do know instead of causing more anguish to a man who has already paid the lawful price for his misdeeds. By hounding Ferguson out of town it is ourselves that we hurt, not those who should in fact be brought to justice: the uncles, friends, fathers, brothers of our children.

1 comment:

ZoriN said...

IIRC, he was abused himself.