Child sex offenders in SA face indefinite detention

Andrew L. Urban.

Repeat child sex offenders would be subject to indefinite detention and potentially lifetime electronic monitoring under new laws that will be fast-tracked through South Australian state Parliament. Premier Peter Malinauskas described his government’s proposed amendments to the Sentencing Act 2017 as “the most draconian laws of their type anywhere in the country”. 

If passed, the amendments would ensure that if a paedophile was jailed for a second time for a serious child sexual offence they would be automatically sentenced to indefinite detention.

That’s great. But will the SA Government make any effort to ensure that sex offenders get a fair trial? To guarantee that all sex offence convictions are safe? Because the system doesn’t currently fill us with confidence on that score.

The greater the punishment, the greater the need to scrutinise the investigation, the prosecution case and the conduct of the trial.

We have reported on sex abuse convictions that are demonstrably wrong; that’s what motivates our concerns.


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4 Responses to Child sex offenders in SA face indefinite detention

  1. Mary says:

    Because current child sex offender convictions are patently NOT SAFE, very possibly to the extent of something in the order of 33%, I’m not sure that this proposed amendment is “great” at all. And we need to have the courage to say so and not possibly be intimidated by the thought of being denigrated by the mobs.

    Any government proposing such a law needs to ensure all convictions are safe before proposing such a law.

    Does anyone propose to automatically ensure that if a murderer is convicted of murder for a second time, that the murderer will be sentenced to indefinite detention?

    Or a fraudster being convicted for a second time on “bottom of the harbour” schemes that cost thousands of ordinary people their life savings [some of whom commit suicide] and sometimes even threaten the stability of whole economies as in the US with Bernie Madoff?

    Or conviction for a second time on any other seriously wounding crime?

    No, I’m sorry but in my opinion sentences for child sexual offences have already been increased to a highly deterrent level and anything more smacks of revenge, not justice, especially when one considers that anyone convicted of HISTORICAL child sex offences as a result of the Royal Commission stands quite a high chance of being charged again on the allegation of some other person who decides there will be compensation in it for that complainant. And we know that such a person charged, will almost automatically be convicted again.

    That sounds cynical, but when one has seen multiple people that one knows and has even worked with who could not possibly be guilty [because one knows the checks and balances that existed in the system] apart from knowledge of the person’s own integrity being convicted with hefty sentences, then one fully appreciates the dangers of such a proposed law.

    Especially when one has seen an actual paedophile that one also knows, who admitted he groomed kids and abused them for lengthy periods of time, being charged with fewer crimes and given considerably lesser sentences because he admitted his guilt [and even asked for other un-charged crimes to be taken into account].

    The system is seriously flawed and increasing sentencing is not going to fix it.

    Just as we all have to make efforts to ensure our reasonable safety from murderers and from thieves who want to rob our houses, money has to be spent on making children a lot safer than they currently are.

    This means often from their own parents, uncles, cousins, grandfathers and neighbours because this is where most child sexual abuse occurs. So this means better vigilance at schools and better welfare intervention services.

    And parents have to be trained to ensure their children’s safety as far as possible from threats at school or other institutions including sports clubs; strangers who give kids a lift; shopping centre toilets; regular fellow travellers on trains or other public transport who talk to their children. Now most parents do ensure their children’s safety as far as possible, but many do not.

    Children do not have to be so scared that they fear everybody. But they do need a good sense of their own self-worth, a happy group of friends, a knowledge of what is sexual predation and their parents do need to realise they have a duty to protect their children.

    If we can spend public money on “Slip, Slop, Save” cancer campaigns, or on tourism campaigns, we can certainly spend public money on educating and helping parents to protect their children, instead of having to spend nearly so much money on Royal Commissions, so many police investigations, court trials, and incarceration of criminals [as well as the innocent convicted people], after young children and even teenagers have been damaged for life. I am sure the temptations to prey on children could be considerably reduced.

    We are not living in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when many children were orphaned and on the streets, and were easy prey for paedophiles. Likewise, our children should not be easy prey in this day and age because parents have not looked after them properly and eventually the children have become state wards where abuse is easier and self-worth plummets [because in the child’s mind he/she was clearly the reason the child needed to become a state ward]; or where parents have abrogated their responsibiities to a school, a church, or a youth group without making some effort to check out their reputations or offering their services as “helpers”.

    And some parents need to know how to build up a child’s self-worth instead of telling the child he/she will never amount to anything, or can never do anything right – just because the parent feels angry or tired or inadequate. Perhaps lessons in parenting skills when children are expected and have recently been born. I am serious, because in this era of smaller families, many parents have fewer skills passed on to them by their own parents and have not observed the parenting of younger siblings!

    • andrew says:

      Enthusiastically agree on most of your points. But I do think actual sex abuse of children is not like other crimes, because it is born of a predilection that is not ‘cured’ by incarceration. Sadly, it is also a crime all too easily manufactured by unscrupulous claimants.

      • Mary says:

        I think you are right about the predilection – and under those circumstances why not engage the “indefinite” incarceration on the first offence? It would be logical, but somehow we veer away from that option on the basis that “people deserve a second chance” when what we really mean is that “it seems a bit harsh”. But if there is a proven predilection for paedophilia then indefinite incarceration should be the logical outcome.

        But perhaps that really is not necessary. Perhaps the lifelong ankle bracelet for monitoring is all that is required. Sure the person has to wear shoes and socks for the rest of his/her life if they don’t want to be caused additional embarrassment with a monitoring bracelet on a naked ankle – but that seems a relatively minor impost in relation to indefinite incarceration. And of course, no doubt they would have to report to police at regular intervals.

        Perhaps under those circumstances sentencing need not be so extreme and therefore not so costly to the state.

        But what do you do with the school teacher [or other person in authority] who has an apparently consensual “affair” with a sixteen year old girl who is old enough to give consent – but in fact, whethether knowingly or not, is engaging in a serious breach of trust in what is objectively a serious sexual abuse situation because of the unequal authority between the teacher and the student – but in any other situation between say a 24 year old man and a 16 year old girl, would not be considered child sexual assault? [Or it might be a young female teacher with a younger male student – I don’t know the current age of consent for a male, but it used to be quite young.]

        So, there are always going to be situations which have to be dealt with on a case by case basis for sentencing.

    • Poppa says:

      Such parental enlightenment being present should be as a result of adequate childhood sex education, societal behaviour standards & expectations & the need to treat others with caring & respect lest they themselves fail to recognize THEY too could become a VICTIM of sexual abuse/predation. That along with a govermental ban on Internet pornography just as they are now acting to apply it on “Vaping”.
      Where there’s smoke….there’s FIRE !
      IMHO intelligent acceptance & recognition of pubertal sex drive and enabling safe, respectful and providing non-condemnatory means for its release ( & thus a form of societal and personal control over it?) would sinificantly lower the risk of Rape & Sex Crime.
      Teaching as to “The Birds & The Bees” per se is long past its use by date as it fails to include instilling in young minds the risks & penalties they will face if they act criminally when it comes to seeking sexual gratification.

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