Managing sex offenders in the community
This page explains how sex offenders are managed and supervised in Queensland, particularly how Queensland Corrective Services monitors offenders and provides treatment inside and outside prison.
Queensland courts have several sentencing options for managing convicted sex offenders:
- release into the community under a probation, intensive correction or community service order
- a prison sentence, leading to supervision after the sentence is finished, release on parole with strict supervision or continued detention.
At the end of the prison sentence
The Attorney-General applies to the Supreme Court in the last 6 months of a prisoner’s sentence.
The court can issue an order for either continued detention or supervision. If it issues a continued detention order, this must be reviewed annually and the court may release the offender to supervision.
If the court issues a supervision order, it can attach conditions such as curfews, electronic monitoring, random alcohol and drug testing, and exclusion from certain organisations or areas, such as playgrounds and schools.
Monitoring offenders in the community
Supervision by officers
Offenders sentenced to community-based orders, including probation or intensive correction orders, are supervised by probation and parole officers throughout the order.
If an offender breaches any order conditions, they may be returned to court and re-sentenced or their conditions may be changed.
Offenders released on parole are also strictly supervised by probation and parole officers. They must report to, and receive visits from, the officers and may be tested for drugs and alcohol.
If an offender breaches parole conditions, the parole order may be suspended or cancelled, and they may be returned to prison for the rest of their sentence.
Dangerous prisoners cannot change their name without permission from the chief executive of Corrective Services.
Child offender register
The Australian National Child Offender Register keeps details of all registered child sexual offenders.
Offenders on the register must tell police about their aliases, address and employment details, car registration details and affiliations with clubs with child membership or child participation.
Corrective Services helps keep the register up to date by telling the police when an offender:
- is discharged/released from custody
- re-enters custody
- is transferred interstate
- is granted permission to travel
- ceases supervision.
A court can make a prohibition order banning convicted child sex offenders from specific behaviour if it believes that the behaviour risks children’s lives or sexual safety. The conduct doesn’t need to be criminal offence.
After receiving the prohibition order, the offender is placed on the child offender register.
Corrective Services officers can inform the Department of Child Safety if they believe a supervised offender is at risk of harming a child.
Treatment for sex offenders
Treatment programs are important for reducing an offender’s risk of re-offending.
Often, a court’s decision to release an offender will depend on an offender participating in programs before or after release.
Releasing details of sex offenders
When information can be released
By law, the chief executive of Corrective Services can disclose confidential information if it is in the public interest.
They will reveal this information only when individual community members need to know about an offender’s placement or employment, including residents, local schools and childcare centres in the same area where the offender is living.
Before someone receives confidential information about an offender, they must sign a confidentiality agreement. If they don’t sign the form, they will receive only general information, (i.e. that a convicted sex offender is living in the local neighbourhood).
America’s ‘Megan’s Law’
The United States has a law, known as Megan’s Law, which requires police to release information about registered sex offenders to the public, including their name, picture, current address, imprisonment date and crime.
This law does not apply in Australia.