NSW: Paroled Sex Offenders To Be Monitored With Electronic Ankle Trackers
The ‘clack’ of electronic trackers being locked around ankles is a sound rapists and paedophiles will be hearing a lot more of, after the NSW State Government announced tough new reforms.
All inmates granted parole from Friday who are considered high risk sex offenders will have an ankle bracelet slapped on.
“The community can feel safe, that anybody who is on parole for sex offences will be monitored,” said NSW Minister for Corrections David Elliott.
‘High risk’ is defined as someone who commits a sexual offence punishable by seven years or more -- even if their eventual sentence is shorter than that.
The new regulation comes amid community outrage over the sexual assault of a 7-year-old-girl, allegedly at the hands of sex offender Anthony Sampieri.
The convicted rapist was on parole, when he allegedly attacked the child in the toilet of a dance studio at Kogarah in Sydney’s south.
It has also sparked a review of how authorities share information, after parole officers weren’t told Sampieri had breached parole conditions by making lewd phone calls.
“The recent events have shown that we need to certainly review and we will be doing that and improving the communication between the NSW Police and the NSW Corrective Services,” Elliott said.
There are currently 980 sentenced sex offenders in NSW prisons. Over the next 12 months 377 of them will be eligible for parole.
A tracker won’t tell authorities what the parolee is doing at any point in time but it will show their location. They can also be used to establish exclusion zones and curfews, with an alarm activated if the wearer breaches either condition.
“While we don’t know what they’re doing, we know where they are and we can obviously respond to that and we do that in our own right and together with the NSW Police,” said Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin.
Victims advocate Howard Brown has welcomed the changes as "a good idea" but is worried the State Parole Authority may become more willing to release offenders.
“I don’t want members of the community to fall into a false sense of security that therefore they are protected,” he said.
“And more importantly, I don’t want the parole authority to come to the view that because we are electronically tagging someone, then it is okay to release,” Brown said.
“The test has to be ‘what is the danger to the community?’ and then the second part of that test is ‘can we reduce that risk by the imposition of a tag?’ If we can’t pass the first threshold we can’t go to the second,” he said.
Brown wants the State Government to examine how authorities determine the risk of an inmate re-offending. After more than 20 years of appearing before the parole authority, he believes the current system doesn’t look at the ‘overall picture’ and places too much emphasis on a person’s actions during their prison term.
“We have to have a far better way of assessing the risk of re-offending,” Brown said.
“There has to be a common sense test that is lacking in all these auditing tools."