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Violent and Sex Offender Register Jeopardises Rights

Violent and Sex Offender Register Not Needed and Jeopardises Rights

“JustSpeak believes the Minister of Correction’s suggestion of a violent and sex offender register is unnecessary due to existing forms of monitoring, moves attention away from the causes and solutions to this kind of offending, and will breach the human rights of those who have already served their sentences.”

“JustSpeak recognises the importance of public safety and the complexity of an issue where sexual and violent offenders may continue to pose a risk after their release. However, the Minister’s suggestion that the Department should constantly monitor the job, address, relationship status and other details of former offenders represents a continuing form of imprisonment without bars and may be an impediment to the rehabilitation of such offenders.”

“The Minister’s comments that a management system should apply ‘almost for the rest of their lives’ ignores the fundamental principle that a person should only be punished for the sentence given. The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court recently found that similar legislation breached the human rights of offenders who were put on a register for life without the right to review.”

“We have to remember that human rights apply to everyone – even those who have committed horrible crimes. Such an extensive intrusion into the lives of citizens by the state needs to be properly justified, and without proper safeguards there is a real danger of further state surveillance in other areas where people are considered ‘risky’.”

“Extended Supervision Orders – which allow for extensive monitoring for up to 10 years – already exist where a sex offender has finished their prison sentence but are considered by the courts to pose a risk to society. These orders require a high standard of proof. It is unclear what this law will add except to circumvent these necessary standards and make the government appear proactive through duplication.”

“The right to privacy is also highly important and recent events have shown that government systems must be secure before they can be trusted with a centralised database of this kind. A leak of personal details could lead to reprisals against those who are trying to reintegrate into the community.”

“Resources in the justice sector are already tight and we need to ensure that money is being spent to address the causes of crime, rather than window dressing. While this law might lull the community into a false sense of security, having former offenders on a register does not necessarily mean there will be a reduction in offending. A register will not aid in the rehabilitation of sex offenders back into society and may in fact inhibit any progress made in programmes prior to release, making them more dangerous to society and increasing their chances of reoffending. A register does not express hope in these offenders released from prison, at a time when those released from prison need the support and assistance of all in the community to become participating members of society again.”

“We must focus on and address both what causes people to commit violent and sexual offences in the first place, and research which forms of rehabilitation will provide for reductions in reoffending on release.”

“The Government is to be commended for some moves that have improved rehabilitation in prison. But this announcement shows once again that the Government has not given a consistent commitment to rehabilitation, and has too often tried to pair genuine rehabilitative measures with populist action that looks tough on crime. We shouldn’t make policy merely to look tough. We need policy that is evidence-based and effective, and JustSpeak is not confident that the Minister of Corrections’ latest announcement fits those requirements.”

ENDS

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