Catron says proposed sex offenders list misses point

| 23/02/2009

(CNS): In the wake of the government’s announcement that it will be establishing a closed paedophile register, political candidate for Bodden Town and long time advocate for an open list Sandra Catron has described Minister for Health Anthony Eden’s proposed register as a disappointment because it does not change anything. “It only codifies what is currently occurring and in my viewpoint this is a complete waste of time,” she said.

She explained that, as this register is intended merely for the use of agencies and departments involved, ones that already have access to information, such as the police and the Department of Children and Family Services, “It simply does not make any sense.” Catron said that the goal of the campaign which she started has been missed. “The register has to be very clear. The aim and objective is to warn people of offenders who have committed an illegal act of rape or sexual assault.”

Last week Eden told the Legislative Assembly that the Sex Offender Registry Bill (2009) had been put out for a 60–day public consultation and would be the country’s first list tracking those convicted of sex crimes including rape, indecent assault, defilement, and incest. Convicted sex offenders would be required to register their names, home addresses, workplace, and details of property which they own. The wider public, however, will not have access to the list, which also proposes registering people convicted of  what were described as “unnatural offences” as defined under the Penal Code such as sodomy.

The proposals states that sex offenders assigned to the registry would have their photographs and fingerprints taken, and may be asked to provide a DNA sample — details one would assume the police would already have if the offender has been convicted. Moreover, the proposal does not state which government entity would be responsible for managing the register.

Catron said that a realistic debate was required to look at this issue properly. “We have put the cart before the horse in what seems to be an election response. Careful consideration should be given to how this is going to be organized and maintained. I believe that the most equipped persons to manage such a database would be someone in the judicial department. Clear policies for how persons are added and possibly removed are also important,” she said.

Catron said there were a number of ways that an effective register could work including ranking the seriousness of the offence so that some people are never removed given the type of offense that they have engaged in.  Believing that sex offenders are rarely rehabilitated, Catron stated that Cayman need to have experts on hand to speak about this. She said there was a need to follow the ongoing research and debates concerning how long offenders should be registered.

“Certainly any abuser of children should remain on the site indefinitely,” she added. “My petition attempted a more holistic approach. The registry was only one component. International cooperation, stiffer penalties, prevention and education were also in the petition. This law does not address any of those issues in a comprehensive manner. “

Catron noted that a holistic approach is what would be more beneficial. “Offenders should be prevented from applying for jobs that put them in direct contact with children – for example, schools, school buses, coaches etc,” she said.

With myriad issues to deal with regarding child sex offenders, another issue which could not be ignored was the problem of juvenile on juvenile abuse and serious education strategies are needed to tackle that problem, Catron noted. “Our preventative talks normally tell children that adults should not be inappropriate with them but does not speak about other children their age or older.”

Facing criticisms that an offenders registers can drive paedophiles underground, Catron argued that at present these people are in our community without any kind of monitoring. She said a public register was a powerful tool that allowed for people to be known who have committed the most heinous of acts.

“It would protect everyone in Cayman, especially our more transient population. We also need to have access to other registers overseas linked with ours so that we know if someone has entered our jurisdiction and committed this offense elsewhere. There are many creative arguments for not having this database, however, every time Ihave a victim come forward and express how their lives have been impacted by this type of abuse I find the resolve to continue to fight for the voiceless,” Catron said.

The petition asking for a public register has been signed by almost 1000 people — a significant amount for Cayman. “For government to respond in such a non-sincere manner is heart wrenching for me and it demonstrates that the powers that be really do not have a true commitment to protecting our children,” she added.

The petition is available at www.caymansexoffenders.org

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The UK registry is a PRIVATE registry like what is suggested here. So what’s your point? Only the authorities will know just like in the UK.

    Research it – that registry has not worked at all. Public registry is the only way to go!! I agree with Sandra on this one. These monsters pose a different kind of risk to the other offenders you speak of.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The experience of the SOR (register) in the uk was that effectively it drove those who were required by law to register underground.  It is a little bizarre that there is a major uproar about wanting to know sex offenders that live nearby but people are happy to live unknowingly next to drug dealers, convicted firearms carriers and users, people who commit domestic violence on their wives and children, thieves, and other forms of criminals without the need to have them on a register. 

    The purpose of a register is not for summary justice to be inflicted by bigoted members of society it is to aid in tracing offenders and future risk assessment.  Since this jurisdiction does not have the same deterrent sentencing provisions and risk assessments as in the UK is seems to me that the current system of monitoring sex offenders – which are extremly few in these isles because most complainants withdraw their complaints before trial or the defendants are acquitted before juries of their peers – can be done quite adequately by the police.

    I suggest that before the public come to emotive and ill informed judgements on the issue of a sex offenders register that they look in depth at the reasons for it and that which it is hoped to achieve.

     

  3. Lois says:

    Sandra,

    We need you in the house to take care of our young people.

    You seems to be the only candidiate who will touch this subject.

    You being young and all, know exactly what they are going through

    Keep up the good work, and stay focus from the negativity of certain individuals,

    who have nothing better to do with their time.

    SANDRA FOR BODDEN TOWN

  4. Anonymous says:

    Keep at it Sandra. No one else wants to touch this one but we need you to stay strong for us!!