Govt prepares state agencies to better monitor sex offenders

Govt prepares state agencies to better monitor sex offenders

The Justice Ministry is preparing various government agencies for a new law set to take effect on Jan 23 aimed at preventing people convicted of sexual and violent crimes from reoffending.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said he has instructed officials to hasten preparations for the law.

Details of the law aimed at curbing recidivism among people convicted of sexual and violent crimes were published in late October in the Royal Gazette. The law, which takes effect 90 days after its publication, allows for the chemical castration of convicted rapists once released if they are considered highly likely to re-offend.

The ministry has also established the Justice Safety Observation ad hoc Center (JSOC) to monitor two groups of former inmates following their release.

The agency charged with enforcing the law is the Department of Probation.

Mr Somsak said ministerial regulations will be issued under the law to cover all areas of enforcement, including the rehabilitation of former inmates.

Officials are being trained to familiarise themselves with the contents. They are distributed manuals to help with enforcement, the minister said, adding departments outside the ministry will also be informed about what to expect.

The Justice Ministry has secured cooperation in enforcement of the law under a memorandum of understanding with the Courts of Justice, prosecutors, the Interior Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Royal Thai Police Office.

Some 17,807 inmates will be subject to the law once they are released from prison. Of them, 5,683 were convicted on sex-related charges and 12,068 on assault charges. Among them, 117 are set to be discharged from prisons nationwide between Jan 23 and Feb 28.

The minister said the courts and the prosecutors will be kept updated regarding the JSOC in case any former inmates are ordered by the court to be detained for reoffending after being released from jail.

Law enforcement officers and probation volunteers will also be on the lookout for repeat offenders.

Mr Somsak said the ministry has designated detention facilities for the change. Initially, the Klong Prem Central Prison in Bangkok will serve as a pilot detention centre before a similar facility is opened in prisons in major provinces, including Phitsanulok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ratchaburi, Rayong and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

"Drafting and implementing the ministerial regulations to supplement the law will need to be wrapped up within the 90-day window," Mr Somsak said.

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