Legislators urge MOJ to treat repeat sex offenders

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

Opposition lawmakers yesterday jointly urged the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to spend more money on subsidizing correctional facilities and follow-up treatments for repeat sex offenders amid public outrage at a case where a teenager was killed by a repeat sex offender released from prison only one month prior. The tragic death of the 13-year-old girl in Yunlin County demonstrated how the MOJ spent too much time putting criminals in jail while failing to put an equal emphasis on treating sex offenders, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said in a press conference yesterday. According to statistics, only 7 percent of the MOJ’s annual budget is used by correctional facilities to carry out follow-up medical treatment with newly-released sex criminals. Meanwhile, the United States government spends around 33 percent of their judicial budget in supporting the sector, said the DPP lawmaker. “Our officials have failed to understand that prevention is better than punishment,” said DPP lawmaker Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), who also joined yesterday’s press conference.

Lin Min-chieh(林明傑), a professor of the National Chung Cheng University and a sex therapist, said studies shows that sex offenders have a high recidivism rate. But the rate can be significant lowered with proper treatment. However, the MOJ continues to cut its annual budget for treatment for these patients, which makes it more difficult to provide suitable and long-term treatment to these repeat offenders, he added.

He further urged the government to revise current regulations immediately to prevent more sex crimes, including making sex offenders recently released from jail wear an electronic tag, like the ones sex offenders on parole are required to wear. The government should also learn from the U.S. and Germany’s example, he said, as both countries have regulations allowing repeat offenders to be kept in lifelong custody. The call from lawmakers and scholars came after the recent case of a junior high school girl who raped and killed by a repeat sex offender. The case triggered a massive public outcry. The student, surnamed Yeh, went missing after she left home in central Taiwan’s Yunlin County on a bicycle March 13. Police arrested a suspect surnamed Lin after they reviewed footage from street cameras and found the girl’s bicycle near his home in Yunlin County. After one week of questioning, Lin confessed to strangling the girl to death as she fiercely resisted his attempts to rape her. In related news yesterday, the Ministry of Interior’s Jiang Yi-huah said the government needs to protect the rights of both victims and ex-convicts, when he was asked by lawmaker if his ministry would consider releasing the personal information of sex offenders to local village leaders as a way to warn parents. Jiang said the final decision would have to be decided after talks with the MOJ to agree a balance between both sides of the issue.