On releasing the names of the accused

In this thread here a terrible crime is alleged.

But I have a problem with it:

Disclaimer: If the accused is found guilty in a court of law, we ought to punish them to the fullest extent possible.

Namely this: the people involved have now been publicly identified. Now assume they are found not guilty. The mud will stick. Their lives will probably be effectively ruined by the accusations. No matter any overwhelming evidence, some people would still (in the event they are found not guilty) hold them as having comitted this awful crime (on a side note I see some Dopers already making comments that assume guilt based solely on the reported accusation).

My question then is this: ought we automatically withhold the identification of any accused until they are actually convicted of a criminal act, in order to protect the innocent?

So the concept of secret trials doesn’t bother you?

It’s not a perfect world, nor will it be. For me, any attempt by the government to hide anything – especially concerning the judicial process – without an objective, justifiable, public reason is abhorant.

No matter how well you attempt to set up system which protects the rights of all, especially the innocent, there will be problems. However, withholding the identifications of those charged until after a trial is not the way to go. For in the end, no matter what you do, some people still will not accept the truth.

You cannot legislate against ignorance.

I’m sure Richard Jewel and the man accused of the antrax mailings (whose name currently eludes me - Hatwick?) would agree with you. To a certain extent, I agree with you.

However, releasing the names might also bring out witnesses. There are processes in place to weed out false witnesses that, for the most part, work. When going up against Catholic priests, this worked. People realized they were not alone, and found strength to face their abusers in their numbers.

I will say that I wholely (wholy? wholly?) disagree that this is a freedom of the press issue, although I’m sure there will be others who will also disagree with me. The accused, such as Jewel and Hatwick, do not deserve the treatment the press gives in its sensationalistic fervor to sell advertisements.