So where exactly do we put high risk sex offenders after they have done their time?

A “high risk” sex offender housed metres from a Auckland school has been moved after a public outcry – to near another school.

The convicted rapist, who has temporary name suppression, was released from prison last month to temporary accommodation near the grounds of Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae in Mangere East, sparking outrage when the school was not told.

Kura pupils said they filmed the man making hand and tongue gestures to them.

The man has since been moved – and is now living near Jean Batten Primary School in Mangere.

Parent Sauni Seleni told the Weekend Herald a school newsletter alerted him to the man’s presence. A Corrections manager later told him the former inmate was living 70m-90m from the school.

“I know this person is part of society, but we are not safe to have this person there and he’s not safe to be there … take him away from schools.

It’s like putting a dog beside meat and telling it not to take it.”

It is actually not that easy to place sex offenders in the community and away from schools, kindies, playgrounds, child care facilities and other places where “meat” is on offer. 

Corrections consider the man “a very high risk of imminent violent offending” and applied for a public protection order to make him live on prison grounds after his compulsory release from prison.

That was turned down by a High Court judge, who instead imposed an extended supervision order for seven years, including one year of intensive monitoring.Jean Batten principal Jeff Bruce said he was concerned, but Corrections had informed the school and supported it well.

He was told the man was living 300m-400m from the school, but security measures made it “sound a bit like a public prison“.

Their newsletter included guidance for parents and the school was revisiting its own safety protocols.

Corrections northern operations director Lynette Cave said public safety was their first priority.

“A significant amount of preparation goes into approving a suitable address. No address would be approved if we considered it presented an unmanageable risk to the safety of the community.”

Security measures included a 2m fence, locks and alarms, and alerting five school principals and immediate neighbours, Cave said.

So here is the thing:  if we consider these people such a high risk that we need to recreate a prison that isn’t essentially a prison, then perhaps we need to bite the bullet and have a residential facility for high risk offenders that have done their time, but are really not suitable for general release back into the population.

This whole “it’s x meters from a school” problem isn’t going to go away unless you take these people out of the suburbs, towns and cities.

The sad thing is that we are all likely to live close to someone who has murdered, assaulted or abused someone else.  And most of us will believe that people are allowed to have a fresh start.

But when all the experts tag a previous sex offender as “high risk”, then plonking them a few meters from a school is just insane.  There has to be a better solution that keeps us safe and doesn’t step over the offender’s human rights – such as they are.

 

– NZ Herald


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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