Few categories of offender invoke as strong a response as sex offenders. There is a public desire to “do something” about sex offenders, which is taken seriously by politicians of all persuasions.
One way governments have responded is by increasing the length of time sex offenders spend behind bars. For example, most Australian states and territories now allow for “dangerous sex offenders”—such as Edward Latimer, who committed numerous offenses against adult victims—to be kept in custody after their sentences have ended.
But it’s not feasible to keep all convicted sex offenders in prison forever, and there comes a time when even offenders like Latimer must be released. This, understandably, creates public anxiety and raises questions about what steps should be taken to ensure public safety.
In response to cases such as these, many countries have introduced laws that apply to sex offenders after they complete their sentences. These include requiring the community to be notified about their release from prison, placing restrictions on where they can live and maintaining sex offender registers.