Amendments to the Corrections Act 1997
Treatment of Sex Offenders
The Government is currently seeking feedback on the Corrections Amendment (Treatment of Sex Offenders) Bill 2015.
The Bill forms the first tranche of legislation relating to the mandatory treatment of sex offenders as outlined in the government's Our Plan for the Next 365 Days. Further work is being undertaken by the Sentencing Advisory Council on the sentencing of sex offenders. The Sentencing Advisory Council is expected to release its report in September 2015. The Government will be informed by the findings of the report to develop the next tranche of reforms relating to sex offenders.
The Bill amends the Corrections Act 1997 by requiring the Parole Board to consider whether a sex offender prisoner who has been sentenced to imprisonment for a sex offence has participated in appropriate treatment which addresses the underlying causes of offending behaviour.
The Bill also amends the Corrections Regulations 2008 by requiring that the Director of Prisons is not to grant remission of a sentence to a sex offender prisoner if the prisoner has chosen not to participate in treatment or if the prisoner's participation is unsatisfactory.
In the interests of natural justice, the Director of Prisons will be required to advise the sex offender prisoner that the Parole Board, in determining whether or not to grant parole will consider whether the prisoner has participated in treatment or whether participation has been unsatisfactory. The sex offender prisoner will also be advised that the Director of Prisons is not to grant remission of a sentence if the prisoner has chosen not to participate in treatment or if the prisoner's participation is unsatisfactory.
As the first step in the process this Bill provides that the Director of Prisons will determine whether appropriate treatment is available for a sex offender prisoner. If appropriate treatment is available, the Director is to give the prisoner a reasonable opportunity to participate in the treatment. However, the Director is not required to give the prisoner the opportunity to participate if the Director is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the prisoner is medically unfit, psychologically unfit or not cognitively capable of participating in the treatment program. The Director is also not required to give the prisoner the opportunity to participate if the length of the prisoner's sentence means that there is insufficient time to complete the treatment or if the safety, security and good order of the prison may be compromised.
If treatment commences and the prisoner's participation is unsatisfactory, the treatment is no longer available, practicable or appropriate, or there are other valid grounds to discontinue the treatment, the Director may cease or suspend the prisoner's participation in the treatment.
Comments on the Bill should be provided to the Department of Justice by 18 September 2015.
Department of Justice
Office of Strategic Legislation and Policy
GPO Box 825
Hobart TAS 7001