Dozens of residents from Greater Taichung and several councilors from the city yesterday protested against the Ministry of Justice’s construction of a therapy center for sex offenders in their neighborhood, despite assurances by the ministry that it would be impossible for sex offenders to flee the facility.
“Oppose sex offenders, keep Nantun District (南屯) safe,” the protesters from Nantun chanted outside the city council.
Opponents of the project added that there are several schools in the vicinity and so the center could place students at risk.
They handed over a letter of complaint to Greater Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家旗), asking the city government to ensure their neighborhood remains safe.
Hsiao told protestors that Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) had said that if the ministry failed to discuss the matter immediately with the city government, it would ask that construction of the center be stopped and the project’s construction permit canceled.
Hsiao said Hu had asked that the treatment center be built inside the prison rather than outside the holding facility.
However, Taichung City Councilor Julia Chu (朱暖英) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said Taichung Prison had been bad for Nantun residents and that, regardless of whether the therapy center was built inside or outside the prison, Nantun residents were against both being in their neighborhood.
Construction of the center began in March and is expected to be completed in November.
Hu had previously criticized the ministry for being unclear about the purpose of the building. Three years ago, the ministry applied to build a therapy center for sex offenders, but the proposal was rejected by the Taichung city government. However, the ministry later applied to build a therapy center for mentally ill criminals in the same location and this time got the city government’s approval. However, it turned out that the construction is actually a treatment center for sex offenders.
Taichung Prison had explained that the center would be equipped with high-tech monitoring systems with infrared alarms to ensure that nobody escapes, saying the neighborhood did not have to worry about their safety.
Courts usually mandate that serious or repeat sex offenders complete a three-year therapy program after they have served their prison terms.