Friday, November 26, 2010

Research Paper on Sex Offenders

Research Paper on Sex Offenders

The law is a reflection of the values of society, and therefore needs reform as the needs and values of society change. Conditions that may lead to law reform include failure of existing laws, international law reform, and the impact of new technology. Each of these conditions impact upon societal needs and values and consequentially often give way to reform of the legal system.

Whilst reflecting the values of society, the law also has the responsibility to protect the rights of both the victim and the accused. Thus, when changes in the law occur, a balance between maintaining the rights of the accused and not abusing the rights of the victim must be sustained. At times this creates conflict, particularly when it is perceived that the rights of the accused are too extensive. Such conflict has occurred within Australia with regards to sex offender registers and how effective these registers really are in balancing the rights of the victim, the accused and the community.

In June 1999, there became increasing calls for sex offender legislation, similar to that of America’s “Megan’s law” legislation, to be implemented in Australia. This came with the release of convicted sex offender and murderer John Lewthwaite, which caused much hype from the media and a general public outcry to condemn sex offenders further. This case was to be the trigger of a long string of amended legislation which kept being amended the Sexual Offences (protection of children) Bill was finally implemented in 2002. In a statement by Bob Carr, NSW Premier, he claimed that there was a great need for a national paedophile register, stating that “paedophiles do not respect boundaries”.


The Bill created an official register of convicted sex offenders. It would mean that convicted paedophiles must let police know of any change to their address, place of employment, travel details or vehicle registration. The penalty for not doing so is an $11 000 fine or two years imprisonment. Based upon the foundations of “Megan’s law”, this new legislation would provide “notification procedure to alert law enforcement, schools, community organisations and neighbours to the presence of a sex offender who the authorities believe may pose a risk to the community.”

Many perceive that it is the public’s right to know of sex offenders living in their area, as such information and knowledge will assist them in protecting their children. However, in the process of upholding the rights of children and the community as a whole, the rights of the accused have been significantly violated. There has been much debate over whether the civil liberties and privacy rights of not only the accused but also their families and associates, should be taken into consideration. Or if the rights of the victim and community override any rights the accused may be entitled to.

The case of R v Ferguson in Queensland has recently raised such conflict over sex offender registration in a similar way that Lewthwaite’s case did in 1999. Ferguson was released from prison on 9 January 2003, after serving 15 years for sexually abusing three children in a Brisbane hotel room in 1987. Supreme Court Justice Ken Mackenzie has ruled that Ferguson report his details to the police for the next fifteen years. The ruling has raised a number of concerns over the effectiveness of the law and whether the rights of the accused have been adequately balanced with the rights of the victim and community.

Ferguson was released under section 13a of the Sentencing Act 1989 (NSW), which provides for the potential conditional release of life sentence prisoners. Clearly the judge felt that the release of Ferguson was appropriate and that he had adequately served his time. However he was then placed on a Sex Offender register. Such a registration program is inconsistent with the goals of society committed to protecting individual liberties and are a violation of offenders rights. Released sex offenders have paid their debt to society and should not be subjected to further punishment. Therefore, registration, in effect, imposes a double punishment on the offender, which does not apply to other categories of offender.

Once any sentence imposed has been completed, our justice system says that a person should have the opportunity to reintegrate back into the community. However with the wide availability of information about convicted offenders, this becomes difficult to accomplish. He has paid his debt to society yet many public citizens cannot see this and registers often entail a vigilante mentality towards offenders. In Ferguson’s case, merely days after his release he became subject to persecution, victimisation and violence, with members of the community becoming so violent he called for police assistance on a number of occasions. Media reports have stated that… clearly Ferguson’s rights have been quite severely breached.

However, the accused’s rights must also be balanced with those rights of the victim. Because of a child’s vulnerability they have specific rights that don’t necessarily apply to other members of the community. Specific children’s rights are considered necessary to protect their integrity and dignity, and to assist the child’s development. These rights are outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Australia ratified on 17 December 1990 (give an exapmle!) to ensure the protection of children takes paramount concern. Although it must also be taken into account that in cases of intra-familial sex offences, the identity of victims may inadvertently be disclosed through family name. In this sense registers would also be violating the victim’s rights and may cause extra, unnecessary trauma to the victim.

It is considered the community’s right to know, and in many ways sex offender registers do calm the sense of helplessness and fear in the community. And although the information from registers perhaps should be disclosed in certain circumstances, such as where an individual is seeking a position that would place them in the care or supervision of minors. Misuse of such information could have serious implications on the offenders and so should be used and disclosed in ways that are proportionate to the need. The current level of disclosure violates the accused person’s rights and needs to be re-assessed to balance the rights of the accused, the victim and the community more effectively.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on any writing topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

Order Custom Research Paper on Sex Offenders
If you need a custom research paper, research proposal, essay, dissertation, thesis paper or term paper on your topic, will write your research papers from scratch. Starting at $12/page you can order custom written papers online. We work with experienced PhD. and Master's freelance writers to help you with writing any academic papers in any subject! High quality and 100% non-plagiarized papers guaranteed!