On panopticism, criminal records and sex offender registries
First Monday

On panopticism, criminal records and sex offender registries by Veronica B. Pinero

Having explored Foucault’s notion of panopticism, the author highlights some socio-legal implications of criminal records in current Canadian society, such as access to employment, access to insurance, and international travel. She contends that there is a need to rethink the traditional notion of criminal records as a paper file, but as digitized criminal information that flows freely across national and international borders. Finally, she explores the use of sex offender criminal registries and their availability to general public in the Canadian context.


The Architecture of Discipline: The Panopticon
The Panopticon in the Canadian Society: Some Socio-Legal Implications of Criminal Registries
Conclusion — Policy recommendations




In 1791 Jeremy Bentham designed a sort of building that was intended to control the lives and souls of the persons living there: the panopticon. This kind of “inspection house” was to be used as an efficient disciplinary system for institutions such as prisons, asylums, schools, hospitals, and workhouses. “The panopticon was a circular construction of open single ‘cells’, built around a central inspection tower, by means of which both the inspector and the inmate were under constant surveillance.” [1] Bentham’s panopticon influenced the construction of several penitentiaries in the nineteenth century, among them the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario, Canada (Taylor, 1979). The concept of panopticon became a paradigm of “disciplinary societies” and was further theoretically analyzed by Michel Foucault (Foucault, 1995).

The first part of this paper explores the concepts of “disciplinary societies” and “panopticon” as used by Michel Foucault, and their links to criminal records. The second part of this paper analyzes the socio-legal implications of criminal records and sex offender registries in current Canadian society. Finally, this paper discusses some policy recommendations with regard to the use of both sorts of registries, highlighting the need to rethink the implementation of these registries to reduce the iatrogenic [2] consequences of their use.



The Architecture of Discipline: The Panopticon

In 1973, during a conference held at the Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Michel Foucault explored the origin and characteristics of disciplinary societies (Foucault, 1998) [3]. He noted that, by the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, European and non-European countries faced the reform and the reorganization of the judicial and criminal systems. According to Foucault, three major principles guided this reform and reorganization:

  1. the development of a secular legal system: criminal offences would be characterized as infringements of the law of society, and not as infringements of a moral or religious system;
  2. the law of society was to prevent undesirable behaviours that may jeopardize the existence of society itself, not to enforce moral or religious values; and,
  3. to achieve the former objectives, the law of society should be as clear as possible.

Foucault noted that these principles led to the reformulation of the concept of “offender”: an “offender” was the person who infringed the law of society. Therefore, “if crime is an offence against the law of society, and if the offender is an enemy of society, how should criminal law deal with the offender and how should it react to the crime?” [4] Foucault notes that this question led to the reformulation of the purposes of criminal law as well:

“... criminal law should be thought as a tool by which the damage caused to society by the offender can be repaired, and if this is not possible, it is necessary that criminal law prevents individuals from repeating these sorts of behaviours. The objective of criminal law is to repair the inflicted damage or to prevent new offences that may jeopardize society.” [5]

Consequently, this notion of criminal law would justify four different sorts of criminal punishment:

  1. transportation: the physical exclusion of the offenders from society;
  2. exclusion: the moral segregation of the offenders from society. The offenders would continue being within society physically, but they would be morally isolated from society;
  3. hard labour: offenders would be required to economically repair the inflicted damage; and,
  4. deterrence: offenders would suffer the same sort of harm that they have inflicted to society (Law of Talion).

However, none of these sorts of punishments would be used. Indeed, the prison would become the main source of punishment, even though this institution had never been theoretically analyzed before. Meanwhile, society became more interested in controlling citizens to prevent undesirable behaviours and reforming identified abnormal behaviours (Foucault, 1998). To achieve this goal, several other professions joined the criminal justice system during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including psychiatrists, psychologists, criminologists, doctors, and educators. Foucault notes that it is within this movement that the disciplinary society emerged.

The notion of disciplinary society, as originally used by Foucault, was intended to distinguish the sort of society mentioned above from the sixteenth/seventeenth century society, the punitive society (la société punitive). The punitive society was strictly focused on physical punishment and torture of the body, while the disciplinary society would be mostly concerned about the notions of control and normality (Mathiesen, 1997; Foucault, 1995, 1998).

Disciplinary societies use different kind of knowledge to achieve the goals of control and normality, such as psychiatry, psychology, criminology, clinical medicine, education, and architecture. With regard to the latter, the panopticon emerged at the end of the eighteenth century as an architecture of surveillance. As Foucault notes,

“... [t]he Panopticon is the utopia of a society and a sort of power that underlies current societies, utopia that finally came to existence. This sort of power can be called panopticism: we live in a society governed by panopticism. The panopticism is a sort of knowledge that does not rely on inquiry, but on inspection. The inquiry was a procedure by which someone would try to know what had happened. Its purpose was to update an event in the past through witnesses that, due to their wisdom or for having witnessed the event, would have been able to know what had happened. Something completely different will take place in the Panopticon: there would be no more inquiry, but surveillance, examination. We will not intend to reconstruct an event in the past, but to completely supervise things without interruption.” [6]

The Panopticon became the paradigm of disciplinary societies. Its main objective was to supervise and control populations in an attempt to distinguish normal behaviour from abnormal behaviour, and correct the latter (Foucault, 1995, 1998). Even though the panopticon was designed as a disciplinary system for different types of institutions [7], it was to have its main role within the penitentiary system. Nineteenth century penitentiaries, both in Europe and North America were designed in accordance with this architecture of surveillance (Taylor, 1979).

Since the development of disciplinary societies, penitentiaries have been used as the main instrument to punish the individuals who have infringed the law of society. Penitentiaries were seen as an instrument for controlling and reforming criminals as well. However, how would it be possible to control the behaviour of this population once their sentences expire? Foucault notes that the development of the disciplinary institutions was only the most visible aspect of various and more profound processes, among them, the swarming of disciplinary mechanisms:

“[w]hile, on the one hand, the disciplinary establishment increase, their mechanisms have a certain tendency to become ‘de-institutionalized’, to emerge from the closed fortresses in which they once functioned and to circulate in a ‘free’ state; the massive, compact disciplines are broken down into flexible methods of control, which may be transferred and adapted.” [8]

One of the instruments for expanding (de-institutionalizing) the power of penitentiaries was criminal records: “‘Discipline’ may be identified neither with an institution nor with an apparatus; it is a type of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of application, targets; it is a ‘physics’ or an ‘anatomy’ of power, a technology.” [9] Criminal records were registers in which offender population information will be kept. These sorts of registers not only kept information about offenders who were incarcerated, but also information about offenders sentenced to other sorts of penalties, such as fines. The main purpose of criminal records was to identify offender population and to keep information about them in order to control their behaviour. Criminal records were also used as an aggravating factor during sentencing in evaluating the degree of culpability of offenders for future offences.

Criminal records were first designed as a way to control offender population and recidivism. Records were kept in a paper file system that was shared within the criminal justice system of a state. However, is it still feasible to conceive this notion of a criminal record as a paper file? (Robert and Dufresne, 2004). There are two relevant characteristics of current societies that have an important influence on the notion and implications of criminal records, and their expanding controlling power:

  1. Information has become digitized and flows freely across national and international borders (Bauman, 2000); and,
  2. Countries have increased international cooperation in the field of criminal justice system (United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988; United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000).[10]

Criminal records are increasingly digitized criminal information that no longer recognizes the legal notion of national jurisdiction. The following section explores some socio-legal dimensions and implications of the regulation and use of criminal records in current Canadian society.



The Panopticon in the Canadian Society: Some Socio-Legal Implications of Criminal Registries

As noted in the previous section, two main characteristics of current societies affect the traditional notion of criminal records: the increase of international cooperation in the field of criminal justice, and the fact that information is not only kept as a paper file, but as digitized data. With regard to Canada, a third characteristic has a main influence on the notion of criminal records: neither the Criminal Records Act nor any other Canadian statute defines a “criminal record.” This means that there is a legal lacuna concerning the concept of criminal record within Canadian legal system.

In 2001, Correctional Services Canada reported 2,600,994 men aged 18 years old and older, and 681,199 women aged 18 years old and older, with criminal records in Canada. Based on the population estimate provided by Statistics Canada in 1999, 20 percent of men aged 15 to 69 years old and five percent of women aged between 15 to 69 years old have a criminal record (Landreville, 2004a). The purpose of this section is to evaluate the impact of a criminal record on three main areas of daily life: access to employment, access to insurance, and international travel. In addition, this section explores a new sort of criminal registry in the Canadian society: the sex offender information registry.

The negative impact of criminal records on access to employment has been extensively documented by scholars (Louks, et al., 1998; Fletcher, 2001; Grier and Thomas, 2001; Thomas, 2001; Lam and Hartcourt, 2003). These negative impacts range from legal prohibitions to work in some fields, to social discrimination by employers. Ex-offenders who have a criminal record are not allowed to work in a number of specific domains, such as some government positions, or to apply for specific work permits, such as child care (Landreville, 2004b). Ex-offenders seeking employment are forced to not declare that they have a criminal record, to not apply for some positions, or to apply for certain employments for which they are overqualified in order to obtain employment (Comité Aviseur pour la Clientèle Judiciarisée Adulte d’Emploi-Québec, 2004; Landreville, 2004b).

The Canadian Human Rights Act attempted to address this problem. Section 3(1) notes that “[f]or all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are [...] conviction for which a pardon has been granted.” In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Act notes that:

Section 7. It is a discriminatory practice, directly or indirectly,
(a) to refuse to employ or continue to employ any individual, or
(b) in the course of employment, to differentiate adversely in relation to an employee,
on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Section 8. It is a discriminatory practice
(a) to use or circulate any form of application for employment, or
(b) in connection with employment or prospective employment, to publish any advertisement or to make any written or oral inquiry that expresses or implies any limitation, specification or preference based on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Section 9. It is a discriminatory practice for an employee organization on a prohibited ground of discrimination
(a) to exclude an individual from full membership in the organization;
(b) to expel or suspend a member of the organization; or
(c) to limit, segregate, classify or otherwise act in relation to an individual in a way that would deprive the individual of employment opportunities, or limit employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the status of the individual, where the individual is a member of the organization pursuant to a collective agreement relate to the individual.

Section 10. It is a discriminatory practice for an employer, employee organization or employer organization
(a) to establish or pursue a policy or practice, or
(b) to enter into an agreement affecting recruitment, referral, hiring, promotion, training, apprenticeship, transfer or any other matter relating to employment or prospective employment, that deprives or tends to deprive an individual or class of individuals of any employment opportunities on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Nevertheless, the Canadian Human Rights Act faces two main problems:

  1. The protection is restricted to persons who have been granted a pardon, and it excludes ex-offenders who have not been granted a pardon.
  2. It is very difficult to prove that a discriminatory practice has occurred towards an employee or a prospective employee unless this fact is expressly declared by the employer or the perspective employer (Comité Aviseur pour la Clientèle Judiciarisée Adulte d’Emploi-Québec, 2004).

With regard to the former, it is important to note that some Canadian provinces have expanded the grounds of discriminatory practices to include ex-offenders who have not been granted a pardon. In Quebec [11], British Columbia [12], and Ontario [13], it is also a discriminatory practice to draw a distinction between employees or prospective employees who do not have a criminal record and employees or prospective employees who have a criminal record even though a pardon was not granted.

Pardon procedures are regulated by the Criminal Records Act and section 748 of the Canadian Criminal Code. A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence but have completed their sentence and fulfilled the conditions established by law to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. However, the Criminal Records Act applies only to records kept within federal departments and agencies, and the number of persons who have been granted a pardon is minor: the National Parole Board of Canada reported that 329,530 have been granted since 1970, while 11,151 were revoked/ceased in that same time (Canada, 2005). According to the National Parole Board there has been a decline in the number of pardon applications received since the introduction of a CAN$50 application fee. The National Parole Board has also acknowledged that it does not sufficiently publicize the pardon program and/or its benefits (Canada, 2005).

This situation draws attention to an important matter: what is the purpose of a criminal sanction? Section 718 of the Canadian Criminal Code notes that “[t]he fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives: [...] (d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders.” If one of the purposes of a criminal sanction is the rehabilitation of offenders, and if the evaluation of a successful social reintegration of ex-offenders should take into consideration their employment status, we need to assure that ex-offenders have access to the labor market. Otherwise, the discourse of rehabilitation will contain a major contradiction.

Not only does a criminal record have consequences for ex-offenders seeking employment, but it also has consequences for ex-offenders purchasing insurance coverage or seeking indemnification following a claim. Bernheim explored several judicial cases in which Québec courts have confirmed that, in some situations, insurers can refuse insurance applications or insurance claims from ex-offenders who do not hold pardons issued by the National Parole Board (Bernheim, 2004a, 2004b, Robertson c. Co. d’assurances Jevco, 2001 IIJCan 18766 (QC C.Q.)). This sort of policy can be applied to ex-offenders’ cohabitant partners or cohabitant parents as well. Insurance companies have adopted the principle that “living with a person that has a criminal record can be understood as having a criminal record.”

Bernheim reported that the Québec Court, in a decision rendered in 2001, has made a clear statement about this issue: “the right to have insurance is not a right by itself.” [14] Taking into consideration that current Canadian society is oriented towards a risk management model, and that 25 percent of the Canadian population aged between 15 to 69 years old has a criminal record, the implications of such a decision are quite significant.

A criminal record, even if a pardon was granted, can also be an obstacle to international travel. As noted above, criminal information has become digitized and, consequently, can flow freely within society. In addition, international cooperation in the field of criminal justice has increased considerably. The implications of such developments are enormous. For instance, let’s imagine a situation in which an individual is convicted of an offence in Canada. After the expiration of the sentence and the time period required by the Criminal Records Act, this person is granted a pardon. However, during the time in which this person was convicted and before the pardon was granted, the criminal record information was shared with other countries, for instance, Spain. In addition, since Spain is a contracting party to the Schengen Information System, this information will be in a database system accessible to all countries that are contracting parties to the Schengen Agreement (currently 15 contracting parties and two members under cooperation agreements). Moreover, since each of these countries has its own national criminal jurisdiction, they are not required to recognize the legal effects of a pardon granted in Canada.

Consequently, this person faces two different problems. First since the Criminal Records Act only applies to records kept within federal departments and agencies, Canadian provinces may not keep this person’s criminal record separated from other criminal records. On the other hand, this individual’s criminal record information will have spread through all contracting parties to the Schengen Information System by the time the pardon was granted. If this person decides to apply for a position to work in Germany or France, or asks for a visa to travel to Belgium, Norway, or Iceland — all these countries will have access to records in which this person appears as a “former offender”. The pardon granted to this person will only have a “rehabilitation” effect within the Canadian federal agencies.

How do we deal with the problems mentioned above? One of the main dilemmas involved in the area of criminal records is the enduring conflict between values: the public concern about “security” (“protection of society”) and the right of offenders and former offenders to privacy. How does society find a balance between both notions? Another notable example of these compelling interests is the sex offender information registry [15]. These sorts of registries exist in the U.S., England, and Canada, among other states (MacKay, 2003).

With regard to Canada, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act regulates the registration of some information about sex offenders. The act notes that the sex offender national database “is intended to serve as a tool that will help police investigate crimes of a sexual nature by providing them with access to current and reliable information relating to sex offenders.” (Sex Offender Information Registration Act, summary). The statute defines as a crime of sexual nature an act that “a) [is] either sexual in nature or committed with the intent to commit an act or acts that are sexual in nature; and b) constitute an offence.” (Sex Offender Information Registration Act, subsection 3.2).

If 1) an individual is considered by judicial determination to be a sex offender or, 2) if the individual received an absolute or conditional discharge under Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code, if the individual is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder for the offence in connection with which the order is made, the individual will be required to report (and maintain updated) personal identifiable information. This category includes information such as given name, surname, alias, date of birth, gender, height, weight, a description of every physical distinguishing mark the individual has, main residence, employment address or place in which the person is engaged on a volunteer basis, address of every educational institution at which the person is enrolled, and telephone number of the places mentioned above (including the number of every mobile telephone or pager in possession). In addition, sex offenders are required to inform the registration centres every departure and days of departure from their main residence, as well as every address at which they stay or intend stay (Sex Offender Information Registration Act).

The person in charge of collecting that information has discretion to record “any observable characteristic that may assist in identification of the sex offender, including their eye colour and hair colour, and may require that their photograph be taken.” (Sex Offender Registration Act, section 5). The statute notes that “information that is registered in the database in accordance with this Act shall be kept in the database indefinitely.” (Sex Offender Information Registration Act, subsection 15.1). This means that even if the judicial order to keep the personal information updated ends, the information that was registered in the database will be kept there anyway.

In an attempt to protect the confidentiality of sex offenders, the statute neither allows the general public access to the information in the database nor regulates the possibility of publicly disclosing information about offenders considered to be a significant risk to society (community notification). However, the statute does not regulate the international exchange of information between law enforcement agencies (international cooperation related to criminal justice issues). This means that if the information in the national sex offenders register leaves Canada, it will be regulated by the legislation of the country that acquired the information. For instance, if the U.S. requires information related to sexual offenders convicted in Canada, the provided information will be subjected to U.S. legislation. One of the characteristics of the U.S. sex offender information registries is that the information kept there is available to the general public (the procedure and extent of disclosure varies according to the legislation of each state) [16].

Some Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta, have enacted legislation that establishes registries of convicted sex and/or dangerous offenders as well. Even though the public does not have access to these registries, all these registries regulate the possibility of publicly disclosing information about offenders considered to be a significant risk to the community. For instance, in the case of Manitoba, the Department of Justice and Attorney General has a Web site where it displays information about the most serious sex offenders, including photographs of the offenders and the nature of their past offences (Manitoba, 2006). In the case of Alberta, the Alberta Solicitor General’s Web site allows the general population to access information and photographs of individuals who are considered high-risk offenders. This program extends beyond convicted sex offenders: it includes violent non-sexual offenders as well (Alberta, 2006). Finally, in Ontario, even though community notification is statutorily allowed, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has not disclosed information about sex offenders considered to be a significant risk to the community (Ontario, 2006).



Conclusion — Policy recommendations

The purpose of this paper was to explore the theoretical links between the notions of “panopticon,” “disciplinary societies,” and “criminal registries.” In addition, this paper was concerned about analyzing the socio-legal implications of criminal records and registries in current Canadian society. The main conclusion of this researchis that a criminal record has relevant negative impacts on an individual’s daily life. In addition, due to the increase of international cooperation in the field of criminal justice and the fact that information is kept as digitized data, these negative impacts seem to increase. As D’Aoust asked, is it still possible to protect privacy in current societies which are characterized by a multiplication of databases? (D’Aoust, 2004). Privacy protection is not an easy task, and it is a much more complicated task in the area of criminal law. One of the main dilemmas is the conflict between “protection of society” and “the right to privacy of ex-offenders”.

This paper identified some possible measures to reduce the negative impacts of criminal records. First of all, it is important to rethink the use of criminal records: which sorts of offences require information to be kept? Is it necessary to keep information about persons who were convicted for non-violent criminal offences such as crimes against property or drug-related offences? Second, it is important to inform ex-offenders about the socio-legal implications of pardons, and to encourage them to apply for pardons. In addition, it is necessary that governmental officials rethink the requirements for granting pardons, in an attempt to increase the possibility of criminal rehabilitation. Third, the insufficiencies of the Canadian Human Rights Act need to be addressed to expand its protection mechanisms to individuals who have been convicted for a crime and were not granted a pardon. Finally, with regard to the public disclosure of information about offenders considered to be a significant risk to the community (community notification), it is important to assess its efficiency as a crime reduction tool. The purpose of such an assessment would be to evaluate whether the “benefits” of the availability of such information to the general public justify the infringement to privacy that it represents. The risk of neglecting such an assessment is to create a false sense of security in the community or, alternatively, the spreading of fear. It is important to consider the incidence of vigilante attacks towards former offenders as a consequence of the availability of such information.

Ex-offenders have already “paid” their debt to society. There is a need to reduce the undesirable consequences of a criminal record on an offender’s life. Otherwise, ex-offenders will never be allowed to reintegrate into society. End of article


About the author

Verónica B. Piñero is a LL.D. candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa (Canada). She holds a Masters Degree on Laws (University of Ottawa), a Masters Degree in Criminology (University of Ottawa), and a Bachelor in Civil Law (Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina). Her area of research is criminal law and sociology of criminal law. Her doctoral dissertation explores the creation of statutes in the area of youth criminal justice, and their judicial interpretation. She is affiliated with the Laboratoire en Traditions Juridiques et Rationalité Pénale, Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur la Citoyenneté et les Minorités (University of Ottawa) and the Departamento de Derecho, Universidad Nacional del Sur (Argentina).
E-mail: vpinero [at] uottawa [dot] ca



I am very grateful to Stephanie Perrin (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada) for encouraging me to explore the links between “disciplinary societies” and “criminal records”, and the legal implications of the latter. I am very grateful as well to Jean François Cauchie (Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa) for his valuable comments, and to Tim Schneider (J.D. candidate, New York University) for his superb editing assistance. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



1. Marshall, 1998, p. 476; Foucault, 1995.

2. David Hicks and Michael Petrunik have defined iatrogenesis, following S. Cohen, as “a term derived from the medical field [that] refers to a condition in which a given disease is caused by, or exacerbated by, the intervention which ostensibly tries to alleviate or remedy the problem” (Hicks and Petrunik, 1997, p. 292).

3. The study of the movement from “disciplinary societies” to “control societies” is beyond of the scope of this essay (Rose, 2000; Lianos, 2003). See also Thomas Mathiesen’s notions of “synoptical process” and “Synopticon” (Mathiesen, 1997, p. 215).

4. Foucault, 1998, p. 93 (our translation).

5. Ibid.

6. Foucault, 1998, pp. 99-100 (our translation). The Spanish word “vigilar”, which in French is translated as “surveiller”, is translated for this quotation as “to supervise”. Neither the verb “vigilar” nor the verb “surveiller” has an adequate English equivalent.

7. Such as penitentiaries, working houses, residential schools, psychiatric hospitals, etc.

8. Foucault, 1995, p. 211.

9. Foucault, 1995, p. 215.

10. Some examples of international systems of computerized police cooperation are the Europol Information System, the Schengen Information System, and the European Information System.

11. Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, R.S.Q. c. C-12. Section 18.2. No one may dismiss, refuse to hire or otherwise penalize a person in his employment wing to the mere fact that he was convicted of a penal or criminal offence, if the offence was in no way connected with the employment or if the person has obtain a pardon for the offence.

12. Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210. Section 13.1. A person must not (a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person, or (b) discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment because of [...] that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

13. Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H 19.Section 5.1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of [...] record of offences ... .

14. Bernheim, 2004a, p. 72 (our translation).

15. Nikolas Rose notes that one of the main characteristics of advanced liberal democracies is the concepts of risk thinking and risk management. These concepts are best captured by the dichotomy of inclusion and exclusion. With regard to exclusionary circuits and its population, he states that “a group of individuals emerge who appear intractably risky — ‘monstrous individuals’, who either cannot or do not wish to exercise the self-control upon conduct necessary in a culture of freedom. Sexual predators, pedophiles, the incorrigibly anti-social are representatives of a new ‘human kind’ [...] For such monstrous individuals a whole variety of paralegal forms of confinements are being devised [...] not so much in the name of law and order, but in the name of the community that they threaten, the name of the actual or potential victims they violate. It appears that the conventions of ‘rule of law’ must be waived for the protection of the community against a growing number of ‘predators’, who do not conform to either legalistic or psychiatric models of subjectivity.” (Rose, 2000, pp. 333-334).

16. See U.S., Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Sex Offender Registry Web Site, at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/states.htm. Another interesting case study with regard to international exchange of criminal information between law enforcement agencies is An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defense Act, S.C. 2005, c. 25. As MacKay notes, “[t]his bill [enacted legislation] adds offences, including repealed sexual offences, to the list of designated offences in the Criminal Code [for which a court shall or may make an order for the taking of samples from a person for DNA analysis], provides for the making of DNA data bank orders against a person who has committed a designated offence but who was not found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, provides for the review of defective DNA data bank orders and for the destruction of the bodily substances taken under them, compels offenders to appear at a certain time and place to provide a DNA sample, and allows for a DNA data bank order to be made after sentence has been imposed.” (MacKay, 2004, p. 1).



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Contents Index

Copyright ©2006, First Monday.

Copyright ©2006, Verónica B. Piñero.

On panopticism, criminal records and sex offender registries by Verónica B. Piñero
First Monday, volume 11, number 12 (December 2006),
URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_12/pinero/index.html

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