Protecting victims from further harm

Technology has made it possible to learn where just about anyone lives – even when the inquiry is part of a plot to harm another person. Ohio legislators are considering a measure to provide innocent victims some protection by setting up a system of confidential addresses.

They would be provided by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and similar crimes. The confidential addresses could be used for any interaction with government, such as public institutions of higher learning, municipal utility departments, etc. Mail directed to those in the program would be sent to the secretary of state, who could forward it.

Obviously, the system would have limited usefulness. Employers and other businesses could still insist on being given real addresses.

Still, the system could provide some protection for people targeted by, say, violent ex-spouses. Lawmakers should consider the plan, ensuring it has no unintended consequences such as enabling participants to elude bill collectors.