Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act 2005 (Vic)

Going to try something different today and comment upon the most recently passed State legislation, which just happens to be a fiercely controversial piece of law.

This Act, as I understand it, provides for the mointoring of sexual offenders by the government once they rejoin the community. The Act applies mainly to those offences relating to children.

The Act provides an 'eligible offender' is a person who at some time has been given a custodial sentence, apart from those set aside or quashed. I am unsure whether suspended sentences apply, although the Act applies if a person is sentenced to be placed in an 'approved mental health service'.

The Act basically provides that, where a person has been convicted of a Schedule offence (there are heaps) the government can apply for an extended supervision order, which can last up to 15 years. This is to ensure that when such an offender leaves prison, they are subject to constant monitoring whilst they remain in the community.

When applying, the government must provide the Court with an assessment report from a psychologist or psychiatrist detailing the offender's likely propensity to reoffend, pattern of behaviour of the offender, the efforts they have made to rehabiliate etc etc.

The order contains conditions, which once served on the offender mean they cannot reoffend (well, duh!), that they will attend hearings, notify of address or name changes, not leave the State without permission and other matters.

The offender can be given directions by the government as to where they can reside, times they must be at home, places they must not visit, prohibited employment and community activities and forms of monitoring, including electronic, to which the offender must submit.

If, at any time the order is in force, the offender fails to comply with ANY CONDITION OF IT, the offender is guilty of an indictable offence. Such a breach entails a 5 year maximum sentence. So, if the offender fails to tell the Secretary of a change in employment two days before it occurs, or moves address without permission, they have committed an indictable offence.

So, there you have it, the first piece of legislation reviewed here on The Law Thoughts. Without expressing an opinion on the law itself, it seems a tough piece of legislation which harsh conditions and penalties against sexual offenders. However, I tend to be fairly hardline with sexual offences against children and might argue that in some cases, these orders should not be necessary. The offender should never be let out! I can see the privacy and civil liberties arguments even if I don't agree with them.

Stay tuned for more legislation reviews on The Law Thoughts!


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