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RTÉ, Pat Kenny: The Management of Sex Offenders

11th August 2010

The release of a convicted sex offender this week has received a huge amount of media attention.

Liam spoke on today's Pat Kenny radio show about the questions surrounding this man's release, as well as other issues pertaining to the management of sex offenders in general. 

Liam highlighted that while the public fears are completely understandable, it is important for people to be aware that there has been huge progress made by the state in responding to sex offending, such as assessing risk and interventions during as well as after prison through increased supervision.

What is of critical importance is that we place a greater focus on the post release period, Liam said. While the prison service manages someone for a period of time, the key moment is what happens after they are released, because no matter how somebody behaves in prison, it is impossible to predict how they'll behave upon release. So there needs to be a gradual management of this transition.

In addition, much of the media attention has focused on Larry Murphy receiving early release. It should be noted though, that all sentences are subject to 25% remission rate, and as a result of this, many judges take that into account when handing down a custodial sentence. 

However, early release could be used by the prison service as a very effective tool in rehabilitation. Rather than every prisoner being entitled to early release, it should instead be structured around incentives. As such, early release could be used as an award for prisoners who engaged successfully in programmes rather then it being an automatic privilege. 

Another possibility that has been looked at as a way of dealing with sex offenders in the community is electronic tagging. While this may be suitable for a number of high risk individuals, the IPRT's position is that this is no substitute for the personal engagement of rehabilitation professionals, such as psychologists and probation officers.

To listen to what Liam had to say click here