Dangerous community service

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Dangerous community service

A man was arrested for sexually assaulting a child. He came to know her when he was doing court-ordered community service at a day care center. After finishing his service last January, he recently ran into her while he was driving a car. He put her in his car and allegedly violated her. He is also charged with sexually assaulting other children eight times when he was doing his community service. This case is especially shocking because it shows how carelessly the country treats criminals who are doing community service by court order.

There have been not a few cases of similar crimes where criminals committed more crimes while fulfilling their community service sentences. We already knew of many cases of sexual assaults on girl students volunteering at hospitals and social welfare institutions. Last year, an ex-convict with a record of 10 crimes reportedly sexually assaulted a high school girl volunteering at a facility for elderly people while he was doing his time. There were other criminals who committed various crimes such as stealing money and valuables from people working at the social institutions where they were performing their duties under court orders.

Community service orders are usually given to criminals when courts sentence them to probation for penal servitude or confinement. Since 2009, people who are fined under 3 million won ($2,800) also have been able to substitute their fines with community service if they cannot afford to pay. Owing to this, we have more than 60,000 cases of criminals doing community service a year.

As a result we have to come up with many types of community service including home maintenance and wallpapering for the poor, watching out for forest fires, helping farmers who need hands around their farms, and working for social welfare institutions.

Community service orders are supposed to help criminals show their remorse to their communities, correct themselves and get back to society as soon as possible. But criminals are sent to places without safety measures.

That is why we have been suggesting that concerned authorities pay more attention to when they send criminals to various organizations for community service. How can we send sex criminals to welfare institutions without on-the-spot supervision? We see the positive side of community service orders. It keeps our jails from overcrowding. But we need more sophisticated correctional administration when criminals are sent for community service to social welfare institutions with weak supervision or facilities for children.

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