By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe announced that a registered sexual offender was due for release on Friday although he was considered “a risk of significant harm to the health and safety of the public.”
During a press conference Friday, Mr Munroe said that the current two-year indecent assault sentence of Alden Scott, 55, was for touching the hips of a nine-year-old girl. His previous offence was the rape of a 17-year-old for which he was jailed in 2014 and released in 2020.
Mr Munroe said that the registrar of the sexual offenders list and the commissioner of the correctional institution considered Scott a significant risk to public safety. Reading their submission to him and hearing the offender, Mr Munroe also considered Scott a significant risk.
“…Yesterday I got notification from the commissioner of corrections with a memo from the registrar of the sexual offenders register that a sexual offender on the register was due to be released today and they were advising that due to the antecedents, the criminal history of the offender, his conduct while in the correctional facility and while out working at a police station was such that they deemed him a risk of significant harm to the health and safety of the public as apposed to a particular individual and they were advising that I ought to make a public announcement of the release of the offender.”
He added: “This is an offender who shows no age preference in victims. His history shows offences against a child of nine, a young woman of 17, and while in the correctional institution behaviour towards adult females."
The minister noted the concern of there being reprisal retaliation against persons who are the subject of a public notice. If it is manifest as a reality, he warned, it could lead to courts directing against public notifications.
The Freetown MP said the commissioner of corrections reminder that their preferred method of dealing with these persons are for continuing monitoring after release from prison as is done in Canada. It was incorporated in the parole and re-entry report delivered in 2016.
“I’ve said it previously, we’re gonna have to consult on it because it wasn’t well received when I said it earlier, but the preferred method is not to my mind a more effective method for individuals like this. Would it be he has to sign in by Saturday at the kiosk. He has to sign in within seven days of a change of an address and then apart from that he has to sign in once a year. The preferred protection in our view, as I expressed to the offender, is that you be electronically monitored so that you know that I know where you are 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year,” he explained.
“..A part of the exercise occurring at this ministry at the moment is a revision of the draft parole and re-entry legislation that was annexed to the report in 2016 and we are doing that at the moment. The legal office here with a view to submitting to the Attorney General given the perception of that proposition earlier. We’ll have to move to a public consultation and we’ll then have to advance within that fashion.”
Asked what he would say to persons who are uncomfortable with the offender being released back into the public, Mr Munroe replied that the reality of the penal system is that persons are given a certain length of imprisonment. When they finish that imprisonment, they are then released.
“Having been released, having been set to pay their penalty that’s the end of it unless we make some changes. As I said as a policymaker, the legal department here is canvassing those changes that we hope to advance for consideration shortly. The first change is that currently if you are awarded sentence you get time off automatically upfront. So if a judge sentences you to 12 months, you get four months off automatically.
“At the end of time on being released, if you reoffend you never do those four months. The proposed proposition we are currently looking at that was advanced by the parole and re-entry committee is that you serve all of your sentence. Some of it in prison. Some of it outside of prison, so you will not be getting four months off upfront. You may be released on parole and if you reoffend within the terms of your sentence you will be returned to the correctional facility to serve your new sentence after you have completed serving the part of the sentence that hadn’t expired.”