Justice for perverts? Or perversion of justice?
It's an online volunteer organization dedicated to exposing chat-room "wannabe pedophiles." Trained volunteers set up underage-sounding profiles (both girls and boys) on Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL messengers, and sit in regional chatrooms, waiting for older men to start conversations. If the conversation heads in a sexual direction, the volunteers wait for the men to offer their phone numbers. "Underage-sounding" phone verifiers call to make sure the person is really interested in meeting the girl or boy in real life. Once the volunteers have the phone number and have established the intent to meet in real life...
...They post the chat logs and phone numbers on their website. Then, behind the scenes on the forums, volunteers seek out as much information as they can about the subject, including pictures, E-mails, addresses, employment, and criminal records. They contact the subject on messenger services, E-mails, and phone, encouraging him or her (but almost always him) to admit their crime and get treatment.
They encourage subjects to send a right of reply, apologizing and telling their side of the story. If the subject agrees to get professional sex offender counseling, the site removes their phone number, and eventually the chat log as well. If not, volunteers begin contacting neighbors and work supervisors, to let them know that a (possible?) sex offender is nearby. See the site's visitor's guide and FAQ for more about how they operate. Since soliciting sex from a minor is illegal, the site often works with local law enforcement agencies - see Information for Police. Sometimes the site works with local media to film their subjects arriving at a house where they think they will meet an underage person for sex.
Not surprisingly, the site has several critics. The most well-organized opposition comes from www.corrupted-justice.com, a public information site that also has resources for people "busted' by Perverted Justice. An opinion piece in chatmag.com opposes the site, as does Julie Posey of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And here's a feature article from the Phoenix New Times.
So what do people think of perverted-justice.com? I've been a bit shaken up since learning about the site - I had no idea that online underage solicitation was so common, or that citizens would go to such great lengths to prevent it. What do you think?
I'm withholding my opinions, because I want to hear yours.