Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Sexual assault parolees to wear electronic name tags

RULES ARE RULES In case of parole violation, the justice ministry said that serious transgressions could result in a prolongation of the parole period or its cancelation

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

After first introducing the idea about a year ago, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) last week started implementing a measure by which sexual assault parolees are required to wear a radio frequency identification (RFID) device, which will help police track the offenders' movements.

"Among the 520 sexual assault parolees nationwide, seven men were chosen to wear RFIDs because of their high potential for recidivism," Chang Ching-yun (張清雲), the director of the Department of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice, told a press conference last week.

After evaluating all 520 parolees, seven were considered to have a higher likelihood of committing sexual crimes again, Chang said.

According to the regulation, the seven will not be required to wear the device for longer than six months, he added.

Chang said the ministry had procured a total of 150 RFIDs.

Such devices look akin to a wristwatch and cannot be removed by the parolee.

He said the ministry had asked the seven to remain in their homes from 8pm to 7am.

If the eventuality that they would leave their home, a computer located in the ministry would receive a signal and the ministry would immediately inform the police and officers at the Sexual Assault Prevention Center to look for the violators.

The ministry has imposed "curfews" on the offenders because records have shown that sexual assaults often occur late at night, Chang said.

In case of parole violation, the ministry said that serious trans-gressions could result in a prolongation of the parole period or its cancellation.

Chang said the measure offered better chances for the rehabilitation of individuals charged with sexual assault.

Deputy Minister of Justice Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said the ministry was considering releasing a high-profile prisoner on parole on the condition that he wore a RFID.

Lee was referring to a prisoner, surnamed Yang, who was convicted of sexually assaulting 30 women.

Police called him the "Hwakang Wolf" because most of his victims were college students at the Chinese Culture University on Yangmingshan (陽明山), in the Hwakang area near Yangmingshan National Park. A female professor was also a victim.

In July 2001 Yang took the joint university entrance exam in jail and was admitted to the Department of Sociology of National Taiwan University (NTU).

He then applied for parole so that he could attend the university but his request was rejected several times by the MOJ.

Lee said Yang has indicated he was willing to wear the device.

Law experts have said that RFID monitor devices could also be worn by suspects of serious corruption and economic crimes, as they often tend to disappear.

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