Saturday, September 15, 2007

Would "internal exile" survive a Charter challenge?

How are we to resolve the situation in respect of sex offenders released at end of sentence? The latest furore is in British Columbia surrounding the case of Thane Moore, recently arrived from the end of his 14 year incarceration in New Brunswick with an assessment of likely violent re-offence. He had been asked by the Mayor of Dawson City, Yukon, not to go ahead with his plan to resettle there. Due to release conditions which forbade him from contact with his victims leaving New Brunswick and PEI was imperative and wisely he didn't choose to give Ontario AG Michael Bryant yet another overwrought media cycle.

He then left for his next choice, which under the terms of his release conditions had him accompanied by police officers:
When his flight touched down in Vancouver, police arrested him under Section 810 of the Criminal Code, which permits them to arrest someone for a crime they might commit.
Interestingly, despite his police escort the BC authorities make it look like Moore was wandering at will:
"(The police) had understood that he was going to be going to the Yukon and instead he changed his plans and went to Vancouver," said spokesperson Linda Mueller.
What's likely to happen next is that the media will find the guy, pester him until he hits a photographer, and land him back in jail. If indefinite tariff is barred, contriving the same result by paparazzi must surely be just as wrong.

In this case, even the guy himself admits that he's likely to re-offend, but can't stay in jail and doesn't appear to have an option to voluntarily check himself into a form of supervised treatment. He's just sent out into areas of Canada he hasn't got around to hurting people in yet.

It doesn't really matter because regardless of his re-offence assessment, his offence's abhorrence means no community would stand for keeping him having been informed by police of his presence - and in the unlikely event they would accept him at first, that would last until the media and opportunist politicians had drummed up enough hysterical headlines and in Moore's case that hysteria would probably have solid foundation.

We need to find a legal way to allow offenders classed as likely to re-offend to serve their sentence and be placed in ongoing treatment in an non-punitive setting thereafter, even if a Dangerous Offender designation was not previously sought. If we don't, then the lynch mobs are going to turn violent and the death penalty will have returned to Canada.
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