Extended Supervision Bill passed
Extended Supervision Bill passed
High-risk child sex offenders will be supervised for up to 10 years after being released from jail, following the passage of the Parole (Extended Supervision) and Sentencing Amendment Bill today, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.
"Child sex offenders are known to be in many cases compulsive repeat offenders. These offenders therefore pose unique and very real risks to society's most vulnerable, our children," Mr Goff said.
"While the Sentencing Act 2002 broadened the ability of judges to impose the life sentence of preventive detention on high-risk offenders, there are those sentenced under the old laws to finite sentences who must eventually be released, notwithstanding that they still pose a high risk.
"There may also be offenders in future who do not quite meet the threshold for preventive detention but who nevertheless pose a real concern to authorities at the time they are due for final release.
"This Bill establishes a new regime that will allow supervision orders to be imposed for up to 10 years on child sex offenders assessed as likely to continue to sexually victimise children once released from prison. It will apply to those jailed for a relevant offence, including child pornography.
"In order to capture those who were sentenced under the old laws, it has a transitional retrospectivity covering high-risk offenders who were still in prison or subject to release conditions at the time of the Bill's introduction last November.
"The Parole Board will set conditions for supervision and monitoring of the offender, which may include electronic monitoring to deter the offender from breaching any conditions relating to whereabouts, such as not approaching a school. The Department of Corrections will be able to apply for an extension to the order when an offender breaches conditions without offending.
"Officials will continue to monitor similar regimes overseas and determine whether at some future time there may be a need to consider extending the maximum order beyond 10 years.
"This Bill also puts beyond doubt that specified government agencies can share information relating to a child sex offender for the purpose of reducing risk of re-offending without being in breach of the Privacy Act. "Part two of the Bill contains a number of minor amendments to the Sentencing and Parole Acts, some of which bring the operation of the Acts more closely into line with the Government's original policy intent in relation to home detention, deferral of sentences, and minimum terms of imprisonment.
"The Government has been concerned that deferred sentence start dates are being granted too often in circumstances that did not meet the original policy expectation of being truly out of the ordinary. This has now been tightened. There was also a desire that bail conditions should be imposed where a deferral was given, to retain some control over the offender during the deferral period.
"The government has also been concerned at the number of cases being granted leave to apply for 'front end' home detention, that were subsequently declined by the Parole Board because the offender was clearly unsuitable.
"Amendments have therefore been made to emphasise that the court has the primary role in determining whether wider sentencing considerations make home detention inappropriate.
"These changes address the government's immediate concerns around home detention, but further consideration will now be given to whether wider changes need to be made to the way in which both front-end and back-end home detention operate. It may, for example, make sense to establish front-end home detention as a sentencing option in its own right.
"Finally, the Bill amends the language of the Sentencing Act to reinforce the Court of Appeal's interpretation that non-parole periods greater than one-third of the sentence should be imposed in cases where the statutory minimum would be insufficient to deter, denounce and punish a serious crime.
"These amendments support the position that the amount of 'punishment' a crime warrants is a matter for the sentencing Judge to determine," Mr Goff said.