Another issue that needs to be addressed by policy makers is the problematic nature of the provision of treatment for dangerous offenders in custody. Treatment in prison is generally provided for those approaching their release date. Because dangerous offenders are given indeterminate sentences, many do not have access to treatment opportunities. Yet, because they have not participated in pre-release treatment programs, their release is often denied. Treatment programming should be made equally available to inmates no matter when they are to be released. Additionally, CSC needs to ensure that treatment is appropriate for each offender, given his specific cognitive ability and mental health status. In many cases, suitable treatment is not available to meet the needs of low-functioning offenders, which results in either treatment not being taken or lack of treatment success, delayed release and the perceived necessity for community notification.

Additionally, Canadian governments, at both the federal and provincial levels should reconsider their legislated protocols for community notification when dangerous offenders are released. There are some cases in which notification may be beneficial, particularly when notification is limited to specific individuals or to a small geographic area. In most cases, community notification on a broad scale has more negative consequences than positive. There are numerous Canadian examples of offenders being chased from one community to another, never being allowed to settle down, find employment and seek support. While each community may find some immediate relief when the offender leaves, his leaving is only a short term solution and illustrates a narrow view of community safety. Simply because a particular offender has left the community does not mean that there are not others who are as yet unknown who live close by. We need to view community safety as being achieved when we:

  1. Practice what we know about early intervention to prevent people from becoming sex offenders;
  2. Provide a range of treatment opportunities appropriate to the developmental and cognitive needs of sex offenders of all ages; and,
  3. Understand that the safer choice is to allow offenders to remain in the community in which he has support, supervision and connections.

Some people might argue that they would feel more secure if they were aware of the identities of dangerous offenders in their neighborhoods, but widespread community notification actually serves to heighten fear of victimization. In a large metropolitan area, hundreds of thousands of people are notified of a dangerous offender's release, while only hundreds will come into contact with him in the community. This blanket notification propagates the belief that there are more 'predators' in the community than ever before, and fearful attitudes among members of the public are reinforced. A vicious cycle results: widespread notification leads to an increase in the community's fear of crime which, in turn, leads to more calls for notification. We would also argue that the use of inflammatory language such as "predator" by politicians and officials also works to heighten fear and increase calls for more punitive action.


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