Sex offenders to be monitored after leaving jail under new laws
MORE than 100 sex offenders are being released from jail this year and will be subject to new measures being introduced by the Government on the disclosure of their whereabouts after they have left prison.
Figures released yesterday showed 78 sex offenders have already been set free so far this year, and a further 25 are due to be released by the end of 2013.
A further 99 are scheduled for release next year, out of a prison population of 344 sex offenders.
On Wednesday the Irish Independent disclosed that new legislation outlining the circumstances where details about the movements of released sex offenders can be made public would be published by Justice Minister Alan Shatter by the end of the month.
But the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill will not allow blanket disclosure of an offender's whereabouts and details will only be disclosed where it is deemed appropriate by the garda authorities, including if the offender is regarded as posing a risk or a threat to the community.
Junior Minister Brian Hayes, who was representing Mr Shatter in the Dail yesterday, said not all sex offenders posed the same level of threat. He pointed out that the recidivism rate for sex offenders was lower than for the average offender.
The most recent study, covering a three-year period, showed an average recidivism rate of 62.3pc for prisoners generally; while less than 5pc of sex offenders committed a further sex crime within the timeframe.
Mr Hayes said that in more serious cases, sex offenders could be subjected to post-release supervision orders imposed by the courts and those would be applied to 38 of the 99 offenders due for release in 2014.
He said the existing system of monitoring sex offenders had already been strengthened as a result of reviews carried out in 2009 and 2010, and now there was a high level of contact between gardai and the probation service to support sex offender management in the interests of community safety.
Mr Shatter is to bring a bill before the Cabinet later this month to seek approval for drafting the legislation.
According to Mr Hayes, this will be a comprehensive piece of legislation that will include a requirement that a sex offender must contact his local garda station after being released from prison and the notification period is to be reduced to three days from the original seven.
The Dail was debating a Private Member's Bill on sex offenders that had been tabled by Roscommon Reform Alliance TD Denis Naughten.
Mr Naughten said one in five convicted sex offenders had breached the conditions of the existing sex offenders' register between 2004 and last June.
He said that during that period there had been 261 recorded breaches of the conditions attached to the register, which contains 1,303 people.