Criticisms of community notification provisions have arisen in Canada after many difficulties have been encountered by released offenders trying to return to a life on the 'outside.' Corrections policies calling for the community approval of offenders' residences have virtually ensured that these offenders will be chased from one community to the next. The case of another Alberta dangerous offender illustrates this problem. J. S. was declared a dangerous offender and given a determinate sentence of eight years in the late 1980s. He served his entire sentence to warrant expiry. In 1998, he was released from a federal penitentiary took up residence in a nearby city. RCMP were notified of his release. Subsequently, he was forced to leave his new home after his identity and dangerous offender status were the focus of media coverage. J. S. encountered the same publicity in three other cities in Alberta and B. C. and was forced to move to evade harassment from angry community members. Finally, he took up residence in a central British Columbian community, where he breached a condition of his probation and was charged and incarcerated for several weeks. Upon release, he was given an additional condition that he live in a residence approved by the Probation office and the community in which the dwelling was located. Needless to say, he could not find a place in which to live under those conditions. He then moved to a facility run by the John Howard Society in another city. While there, he breached his conditions, and was incarcerated again for a brief period of time. He was then sent to live in a cabin in a remote area with a corrections officer present twenty-four hours a day. In January of 1999, this situation proved to be unfeasible and he was moved to a forestry camp that had been closed for the winter, but would allow him to live there for a cost of $675 per day. Without removing the condition that the community approve his residence, J. S. would not be able to live anywhere except such remote areas. Although J. S. was given a determinate custodial sentence for his initial crime and served it to completion, he has not been allowed to return to life in the community because no one wants to welcome a 'dangerous criminal' into their neighborhood.
Most dangerous offenders in this country have been convicted of sexual assault, aggravated assault, or manslaughter. As of May, 1998, 231 people were declared dangerous offenders, most of whom were still incarcerated in Canadian jails (Solicitor General of Canada, 1998b). Less than one year prior, as of August 1997, the total number of people who had been found dangerous was 204 (Bonta et. al, 1998). This represents a significant jump; typically, 15 people per year are declared dangerous (Bonta et. al, 1998), but in the nine months since Bill C-55 came into force, 26 more have joined the ranks of Canada's worst criminals. Bill C-55, it appears, has widened the net to catch more people than ever before, including many for whom the law was not intended.
The long-term offender provisions now included in the Criminal Code have the potential to be more effective than the dangerous offender provisions because sentence lengths are fixed and long-term offenders will be subject to a period of community supervision of up to ten years. Fixed sentence lengths are advantageous because release plans are more likely to be developed throughout the course of the sentence, while little or no planning is made for the release of a person serving an indeterminate sentence before the court decides to release the offender. The new long term offender provisions also require community supervision once an offender is released so that corrections officials can closely monitor an offender's behavior. The long term offender provisions are not beyond criticism, however. The constitutionality of making a breach of National Parole Board conditions an indictable offence is still in question, and will likely be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada at some point.
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