Friday, November 9, 2012

Living with convicted sex offenders in your community

Haaaretz   In 2006 the Knesset passed the Public Protection from Sex Offenders Law, the first of its kind in the country. Its main provisions were to mandate an assessment, prior to parole, of the threat posed to the community by each convicted sex offender, and to establish a monitoring unit. This year an amendment providing for treatment and rehabilitation of sex offenders was passed. 

Plant's whereabouts became public knowledge when his wife registered their children for school. Last Friday morning dozens of neighbors gathered outside their building and prevented the family from going into their apartment. Plant charged at the group and made it very clear that he had no intention of backing down. Police officers who were dispatched to the scene explained to the residents that they could not prevent Plant and his family from living in the building, but in the end the Plants moved once again. 

Plant, 49, has served six separate prison terms for the same number of convictions for sexual offenses against minors. In the most recent, in 2006, he was sentenced by the Rehovot Magistrate's Court to seven years for performing indecent acts on nine underage girls while pretending to be an instructor of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines dance and music. 

The sex-offender monitoring agency established under the 2006 law and known as the Tzur unit, has broad powers that can include surveillance operations, surprise visits, frequent phone calls and visits with parole officers, as well as almost around-the-clock supervision and approval prior to an offender's hiring at a new place of work. 

Israel maintains a registry of convicted sex offenders, to which all of them must report their home address prior to their release from prison. But in contrast to many countries, most notably the United States, Israel's registry is classified. The authorities oppose moves to make the records public, in part out of fear of widespread violence against offenders living in the general community.

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