Facing the reality – The case of Larry Murphy and time for some balance

13 Aug

Read Professor Ian O’Donnell in today’s Irish Times commenting on the controversy surrounding the release of convicted sex offender, Larry Murphy. The article, entitled: ‘Facing the Reality when it comes to sex offenders’, provides some welcome balance to some of the media coverage that Murphy’s release has provoked. Some of the unprecedented coverage of Murphy’s release, including him being chased by press photographers on motorbike, brings into focus the role of the media in fuelling public fear and raises questions regarding the reintegration of high-profile offenders. Liam Herrick from the Irish Penal Reform Trust also addressed this issue in an radio interview this week. While Murphy’s release undoubtedly recalls the violent crimes that he committed the coverage of this case, as Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop from the Rape Crisis Centre noted, is  unlikely to do anything more that exacerbate fear and re-traumatise victims. In addition research on factors which reduce the  risk of reoffending highlight the importance of  stability of housing, support networks and employment. As O’Donnell notes, if the same coverage were to accompany the release of every person convicted of a serious offence it would be ceaseless. Let’s hope that this coverage has not set a precedent.

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