Why are dangerous sex offenders released from jail?
This story was updated on August 19, 2016.
Metro news and others report on Aug. 19, 2016, that Brent Russell Jeffery Pilch was about to be released from jail as police warned he is a high risk to reoffend.
Such reports result in many wondering on public forums: why are sex offenders who are considered to still be dangerous released from jail?
It’s a question others have asked before, like when news broke that Ryan James Gabourie, a convicted sex offender who is considered a high risk to become involved in further sexual offences against children, was released from Headingley Correctional Institution on Jan. 9, 2014, and expected to live in Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Free Press has numerous comments on multiple stories asking why this happens. As “Gordo” posts :
Again, why is he even being released?
If he is a high risk, then keep him in jail and the public is safe.
The legal side
UM Today asked Law professor David Deutscher this question.
“The simple answer to your question,” he says, “is that except for persons sentenced to life imprisonment or persons found to be a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence, Canadian law requires that every person sentenced to jail be released at some point in time.
There are some provisions that may provide some controls for a period of time after release, but they do not include incarceration. There is not enough information in the article to know what controls may have been available for this person.”
I think the release of MR. Ryan James Gabourie was simply based on technicality rather than public interest and safety. Considering the provision of the law as cited above, “…. or persons found to be a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence”. Mr. Ryan is considered a “dangerous offender”, but the second clause “sentenced to an indeterminate sentence” which may have been a decision made by the Judge in good reasoning that he is redeemable.
My only question here is, if experts who are responsible for determining whether an individual is safe to walk the streets, thinks he/she is not and should not, how does the law use this information to protect public safety?
Good question. I have forwarded it to the professor.
The following response is from Professor David Deutscher:
If a person has served his entire sentence (i.e. is not on parole) there is little that can be done. If the original sentence included a probation order (as it did in the case that started the discussion), the conditions may provide some limitations that result in public protection. The individual can then be charged with a new offence of breach of probation.
After release the individual can be ordered to enter into a recognizance (commonly called a peace bond) by a judge, if it can be shown that there is fear on reasonable grounds that that individual will commit another sexual offence. The recognizance can contain some or all of the following conditions:
• (a) prohibit the defendant from having any contact — including communicating by any means — with a person under the age of 16 years, unless the defendant does so under the supervision of a person whom the judge considers appropriate;
• (a.1) prohibit the defendant from using the Internet or other digital network, unless the defendant does so in accordance with conditions set by the judge;
• (b) prohibit the defendant from attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground or playground;
• (c) require the defendant to participate in a treatment program;
• (d) require the defendant to wear an electronic monitoring device, if the Attorney General makes the request;
• (e) require the defendant to remain within a specified geographic area unless written permission to leave that area is obtained from the provincial court judge;
• (f) require the defendant to return to and remain at his or her place of residence at specified times; or
• (g) require the defendant to abstain from the consumption of drugs except in accordance with a medical prescription, of alcohol or of any other intoxicating substance.
Unless a new offence is committed, the individual cannot be returned to custody.