From the time of their penitentiary placement, in prison, sex offenders as well as all other inmates are provided with what the Correctional Service of Canada calls a Correctional Plan. This plan which is drafted by a Parole Officer, details the programming that they need to complete if they plan on transferring to lower security, receive Escorted or Unescorted Temporary Absences, transferring to a halfway houses, work release or parole.
The problem with the program is that as long as they attend the classes they will be considered at parole time or any decision time to have “successfully completed the program.” The reality is that there is no way to know if the program was successful or not. Remember it is just a program, not a cure. Any student, teacher or Professor in any academic setting knows that after a short time period, a high percentage of the item studied is forgotten. If this happens to seasoned students, it definitely will happens to sex offenders who are usually in denial of their offence, and not there because they are trying to become academics.
Now comes decision time for the sex offender. Factors that are considered are escape risk, public security and institutional adjustment concern. If the inmate remains free of major charges, follows his correctional plan, and is not a risk to escape, (subjective) the decision makers are hard pressed to deny. While this is a simplistic description, I will detail in further blogs the intricacy of how it works. The point is that the program has a lot of weight at decision time. Consider this, we have all heard of walk away from halfway houses, minimum security, and also inmates not reporting to the parole office upon release. In all cases the police always consider them a danger to society and advise against apprehending them yourself. Never is it said he is low security don’t worry about him.
Now as we know, there is no cure for sex offenders. They will always remain a risk for society. This risk is magnified when sex offenders have uncontrolled access into the community. Again access might come in the form of a minimum-security prison, (where there is no fence around and security patrols are only performed every couple of hours), civilian escorts, (by non-security staff), work releases into the community, halfway houses in the community, (which have less security) and also inmates on parole. So what protection is there for the vulnerable members of society? So far all that has been done is risk management, knowing that we have not cured him of his offence pattern, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that society is safe, counting on the police to be on every corner so as to give us this security. The reality is not so. It is my opinion that with the release of sex offenders into the community without real-time tracking of them, societies vulnerable are at risk.
With the introduction this fall of the Canadian Governments plan to have the location of sex offenders on a data base for all to see, we need to go the extra step and have electronic monitoring on them. Sex offenders in the community with limited security, who can at any time of their choosing just walk away, need electronic monitoring. The technology is there, so lets put it to use to protect the most vulnerable of society.
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