Billboards good, a little off the mark

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Looking into the eyes of a sex offender is something that can send chills down the spine of even the most seasoned law enforcement officers.

Seeing that same face as you drive your children to work can be, well, disturbing. And, in a way, that&8217;s exactly the emotion the state of Mississippi hoped to elicit with a series of billboards featuring the photographs of people convicted of sex crimes against children.

The content of those billboards and their placement &8212; next to a women&8217;s apparel shop and children&8217;s clothing store in Natchez &8212; raised the ire of some local residents recently and rightly so.

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The surroundings should have been considered a bit more before the billboards were placed near a building with the name &8220;Pamper Me Please&8221; a legitimate spa that now suffers the unenviable position of having perverts looming overhead larger than life.

But after the initial disgust settles down, we can see a benefit in the use of publicly taunting these people. But the current use is missing the greater benefit.

The offenders on the billboards in Natchez are already convicted and are not local offenders, either.

Better use of the system would be to use the billboard space to seek out persons wanted for heinous crimes such as sexual offenses on children. The billboards have the right intent but miss the mark slightly.