Ankle bracelets don’t workA series of horrendous homicides by sex predators is ringing alarm bells in our society. Whenever the government comes up with measures to fight sexual assaults against both children and adults, they just don’t seem to work. It is time to come up with more concrete and detailed plans to put an end to these sex crimes and their fatal fallout.
In a residential area of Gwangjin District in northern Seoul, a 41-year old man with 12 previous convictions stabbed a woman to death Monday after she fought back when he tried to rape her in her own home. The next day, a man in his 30s randomly killed a man with a knife in Suwon, Gyeonggi, after failing to rape a woman in the neighborhood. An ex-convict with 11 past criminal offenses, he committed the horrible crime 43 days after being released from seven years in jail for rape. The two killers have one thing in common: they have criminal records.
The most shocking thing of all, however, is that the murderer in Seoul committed the crime while wearing an electronic monitoring device on his ankle. This exposed serious problems with the use of the bracelets as sex offenders’ whereabouts are reported to the police only when the bracelets are damaged or removed. In the case of the killing in Suwon, the prosecution’s request for that ex-con to be fitted with an electronic bracelet was put on hold by the Constitutional Court after he petitioned for a review of the legitimacy of the request because he was convicted prior to the law to put bracelets on ex-convicts.
The two murders reveal the limits of universal application of anti-crime measures. Law enforcement agencies have so far focused on stricter punishment for sex criminals. They must pay more attention to devising effective measures to closely monitor the behavior of ex-convicts, particularly those with records of sex offenses. Currently, about 100 personnel are keeping watch on a total of 1,026 ex-convicts with bracelets on their ankles for sex crimes or murders. They must be allowed to share their information with the police, and there also needs to be a drastic increase in the budget for monitoring.
The Ministry of Justice also must improve its rehabilitation of criminals through intensive counseling and psychotherapy, especially for exceptionally menacing ex-convicts. Without such efforts, the vicious cycle of sexual predators engaging in heinous homicides once released back into society will continue.