It is a constant argument, how do we deal with sex offenders in the community?
I feel as though every month, at the least, there is a new article surrounding community safety in relation to sex offenders.
To be honest, I do not blame the public for their concerns; it is the correctional departments duty to protect us, after all. However I can not help but think that too much energy and resources are being allocated to post-crime measures rather than preventative solutions.
But how do we implement preventative solutions? Perhaps this is a question that belongs in the ‘too-hard-basket’ for judicial departments.
Of course there are prison sentences to incapacitate sex offenders and places such as Corella Place (a.k.a. Village of the Damned) to assist corrective services in better monitoring and regulating behaviour, though the pressing question is how we can prevent ‘normal’ people from becoming convicted sex offenders.
Unfortunately, sometimes it is too late. In many instances I have witnessed offenders go from having no criminal record or low-grade convictions to being a convicted child rapist.
There is almost no in-between.
Although this is very concerning, it is not every offender that comes into the justice system, only a very small percentage.
The article linked above argues that all serious sex offenders should be under an electronic monitoring regime. But the question that first comes to mind is if this would be used to prevent offenders from entering certain areas or as a measure to link them to reported crimes?
Secondly, the language and phrases used in the article are clearly fearmongering. The statements that sex offenders are likely to re-offend and are known recidivists is inappropriate without factual evidence and statistics. It also automatically labels all sex offenders as a threat to the community when this is most definitely not the truth.
The truth is there are many types of sex offenders, many of which I have come across in my work. Of course there are extremely dangerous and high-risk offenders who are deserving of harsh sentences and post-release monitoring, however there are sex offenders who do not fit the stereotypical characteristics of what is commonly thought about these types of criminals.
For example, a 20 year old male who obtains intimate photos of his 15 year old girlfriend by consent is technically in possession of child pornography and will be treated the same as a 40 year old male who is in possession of a photo of a naked 10 year old boy by non-consent in terms of sentencing and being a Registered Sex Offender.
Should the 20 year old be subject to electronic GPS monitoring despite the photos being consensual?
The arguments surrounding sex offenders, their motives, regulation and treatment are ones I am constantly analysing and wanting to engage in as I find it a very fascinating area of the criminal justice system and Criminological theories, so do expect more writing surrounding this topic!
I would love to hear any queries, comments and/or concerns relating to the treatment of sex offenders in the community and whether you think there are any potential solutions to regulating their behaviour or preventing future attacks.