But are communities safer for knowing that high risk offenders are in their midst? In some cases, knowledge of a sex offender can be helpful if community members view themselves as support to that offender in his efforts to live in the community. Knowledgeable neighbors can keep a watchful eye on an offender's activities and can intervene to help the offender seek support if he or she looks like they may be slipping into old patterns. In most cases, however, communities react with fear and outrage, rather than support and supervision. In time, after notification protocols have been in place for several years, we will be able to examine the effects that these protocols have had on the rate of recidivism of dangerous offenders. It would not be surprising to find that recidivism had increased, given that community notification usually prevents offenders from becoming productive members of society.
While other countries have moved away from indeterminate sentencing in favor of community notification, Canada has expanded both approaches. The government, if it is to fulfill its promise of creating a safer society, should look to mechanisms for dealing with dangerous offenders that have worked in other countries. We should look at the dangerous offender provisions of the Netherlands in particular, where dangerous offenders, while given indeterminate sentences, can have their sentences reviewed after two years and every two years thereafter. There are also mechanisms in place for the gradual release of dangerous offenders in the Netherlands which allows for the reintegration of the offender into society. The best approach to dealing with high-risk offenders should provide for mandatory community supervision and extensive programming to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the vast majority of dangerous offenders. Some may never be rehabilitated but, in general, most offenders considered high-risk will at some point be reclassified and returned to the community and thus, rehabilitation and reintegration are necessary conditions to ensure that these released offenders become productive, law abiding citizens. Only then can the government honestly say that our dangerous offender laws are protecting Canadians and their families.
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