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Sex offenders released from prison are still free to roam even though a law was passed by the Knesset last December calling for a monitoring service to be set up to regulate their movements, according to the National Council for the Child.
"They sit in jail for their crimes and then three days after they get out they are free to attack again," Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the council, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
According to Kadman, the law, which took eight years to pass, was meant to go into action on October 1. However, while the Internal Security Ministry has set up a monitoring team within the Prisons Service, that team can not start its work until the Health Ministry and the Social Affairs Ministry appoint professionals - psychologists, psychiatrists, criminologists and social workers - to determine the threat level of each offender about to be released from prison.
The law, which was originally meant to be implemented in January this year, also approved the establishment of a sex offender's list, which Kadman said had not existed in Israel up until now. He said that the new law would require convicted felons to undergo a series of checks by professionals to determine their danger level to society. An offender who is less dangerous would only be required to notify authorities of a change of address, while those considered more dangerous might need to report to a supervisor on a daily basis. Officers would also be able to check up on the offenders to make sure they do not slip up, including spot checks on their computers to see if they are viewing pornography.
The law was not implemented in January, said Kadman, because the Internal Security Ministry was not fully prepared. Though the National Council for the Child objected to the nine-month lag in the launching of the new law, the Internal Security Ministry was given until October 1 to put together a team. The Internal Security Ministry agreed to find the money for the program and the treasury pledged NIS 3 million for the program in 2007. It was also agreed that the Prisons Service would handle the monitoring.
"The social affairs minister and the health minister were meant to make sure these assessment professionals were appointed," said Kadman. "However, there is no social affairs minister and the health minister was sleeping; neither ministry realized this had to be done and now there are offenders walking around ready to hurt again."
Kadman called on Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri to act on this matter immediately so that the law could go into effect.
A spokeswoman for the Health Ministry told the Post that Ben-Yizri had already approved and assigned the regulations for appointing the team and the matter is now waiting for approval from the aSocial Affairs Ministry. According to Kadman, the Social Affairs Ministry had already made revisions to the regulations and sent those on to the Justice Ministry. Acting Social Affairs Minister Ehud Olmert and the health minister must both approve the regulations before the professionals can be appointed, said Kadman.
"The Health Ministry did not swing into action quick enough," said Kadman. "As a result of this delay, every day that goes by brings new victims."
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