19 Sep 2002

American Samoa's acting public defender opposes longer sentences for child molesters

11:47 am on 19 September 2002

American Samoa's acting Public Defender, Bentley Adams, has voiced his opposition over a proposal to raise the minimum jail term for child molestation from 10 to 30 years.

Mr Adams says it is important to recognise that the Territory already has one of the toughest child molestation statutes on its books.

He says the proposed legislation would add an extra burden to the Territory's already strained criminal justice system.

Mr Adams says if the measure is approved more funding would be needed to allow more staff to be employed.

He says another downside is that molesters are often family members and family may be more reluctant to turn offenders over to authorities if there is a threat of 30 years in jail.

Mr Adams says more attention should be focused on limiting immigration as he says most sex offenders are not American Samoans.