Monday, April 01, 2002

(UK) Paedophile rights and Jewish law

(UK) Paedophile rights and Jewish law 
By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet
Jewish Chronicle - April 1, 2002

Rabbi Naftali Brawer (Judaism Today, December 28) is correct in his assertion that no social stigma should be attached to a convict who has paid his debt to society. In Jewish law, the penal process served as the definitive atonement for the culprit.

Where Rabbi Brawer errs, how-ever, is in the exception to these rules.

The “sin offering” being accompanied by another sacrifice so as to spare one’s embarrassment was a principle applied only in the case of an inadvertent offence.

The Torah is replete with instances where punishment was meted out publicly, so that others would be aware and learn from the experience.

Moreover, while incarceration is not something normally employed in Jewish law, it has been utilised for the purposes of repeat offenders who prove a threat to society.

The  paedophile is not the common criminal that Rabbi Brawer refers to in his article. He is someone who suffers from a serious personality disorder and who is very likely to offend again. Failing the possibility of some “magic cure,” Judaism would certainly sanction incarcerating him indefinitely.

If, on account of modern liberalism and so-called human-rights campaigns, we have to free him back into society, then at the very least we must inform those in his immediate surroundings, so that they have a right to protect themselves. Anything less is tantamount to jeopardising human life.  

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