Victoria, Australia: “No Lie Tests for Sex Offenders”

Tanya Giles reports for the Herald Sun:

A RADICAL proposal to force paroled sex offenders to take regular lie detector tests to help stop them reoffending has been rejected.

Police Minister Tim Holding said the Government was sceptical of the reliability of polygraphs as a scientific tool to gather evidence, and would not proceed with tests. “No court in Australia allows polygraph to be submitted as admissible evidence,” he said.

He said the Government had already begun the Sex Offenders Register and introduced the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Bill into Parliament so police could keep a close eye on freed sex offenders.

The British Government recently introduced legislation making it compulsory for pedophiles to take polygraph tests so authorities could monitor their behaviour after release.

A third of sex offenders polygraph-tested in Britain in 2003 admitted unsupervised contact with children since being freed.

The program is already used in 36 states in the US as well as in Canada.

But Mr Holding said Victoria set its own laws and did not follow the decisions of other countries.

Last year, FBI-trained forensic polygraph expert Steven Van Aperen briefed the Department of Justice on how the program could be used to help prevent pedophiles re-offending.

Mr Van Aperen, who frequently works on high-profile homicide cases, said polygraphs had been shown to act as an artificial conscience. He said other benefits included:

IDENTIFYING previously unknown victims who could be counselled and help police.

REDUCING the prison population and its costs.

CATCHING repeat offenders.

PROVIDING more effective parole supervision.

A departmental briefing paper on the proposal, seen by the Herald Sun, recommended that the Government not proceed with tests.

Justice policy advisers said polygraphs, which are based on the theory that lying raises anxiety, causes sweating and increases heart and breathing rates, was a highly contentious “scientific” technique.

They raised concerns that using polygraphs as a condition of parole could undermine the new Sex Offenders Register.

The advisers said it could also interfere with the Adult Parole Board’s discretion when releasing prisoners.

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