Saturday, 15 March 2008

WA sex offenders missing out on rehab

It has been revealed that over the past year more than 60 per cent of sex offenders released from Western Australian jails did not complete rehabilitation programs targetting their crimes.

The Department of Corrective Services says a quarter of prisoners released between March last year and the end of February this year did not complete a sex offender treatment program because they were in denial of the offence, refused to take part or withdrew.

Thirteen per cent did not have access to the Sex Offender Treatment Program because of staff shortages.

The rest were unable to complete the program for health and legal reasons or were assessed as not requiring it.

Opposition justice spokesman Rob Johnson says it is a disgrace.

"I think the public would have every right to be concerned for the welfare of not only adults but also children," he said.

"People go to prison for punishment but also for rehabilitation.

"If people aren't going to take advantage of what programs there are, then they have to face the consequences of staying in there longer."

The department's acting commissioner Heather Harker says programs do not work unless prisoners are willing participants.

She says the funds are available to deliver the programs but her department is having trouble recruiting suitably qualified people run them.

The department says it is developing a new program for sex offenders who deny their crimes.

It has also been running recruitment campaigns to try to attract staff.

Mr Johnson says the Government may need to look further afield.

"We haven't got enough police officers, but the Commissioner is off getting them from overseas," he said.

"If we have to draft in people from overseas to do the job that is needed in WA in relation to sex offender management programs, then that's what they should be doing."

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