Ten years on, the stand is vindicated

Phil Goff

Last fortnight in Parliament, I spoke strongly in support of changes in the law, which will help protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children, against serial sex offenders.

Ten years ago, as Minister of Justice, I passed the Parole (Extended Supervision Orders) Amendment Act. This allowed supervisory powers over people convicted of serious sex offence against children who had served their prison sentences in full but were still regarded as having a high risk of reoffending.

The new legislation allows controls over serious sexual and violent criminals to be extended further when offenders are at extreme risk of reoffending following release.

Undue criticism

People criticised the Law when I passed it ten years ago but it has worked and saved hundreds of our children from abuse, which would have wrecked their lives.

I make no apologies for it.

It is not about double punishment of the offenders.  It is about keeping our community and our children safe.

It applies only to a few hundred offenders.

These are the offenders who, according to professional specialists, will offend again as soon as the opportunity arises.

Judges make the orders for supervision and safeguards exist to ensure the orders are used only when necessary.

Some critics say it breaches offenders’ rights. It does constrict the rights of offenders after they have served their prison term.

However, and in my view, of more importance, it upholds the rights of innocent people and children not to be subject to sexual or violent attacks which the law helps avoid.

Phil Goff is Member of Parliament elected from Mt Roskill Constituency for about 30 years. He is the Labour Party’s Spokesman, among other issues, for Ethnic Affairs.

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