In Canada, recent dangerous offender provisions contained in Bill C-55 have served to tighten controls on criminals who are considered to pose a significant threat to the community. Dangerous offenders are no longer subject to fixed sentences as they were prior to the introduction of the new legislation, and must serve an indeterminate period of time in custody without eligibility for parole until seven years has passed. The legislation also provides for a long-term offender designation that is intended to target sex offenders and imposes a community supervision requirement for up to ten years. These provisions, in combination with community notification protocols used in several provinces, were put in place to protect Canadians from dangerous offenders. But will these legislative measures protect us from harm or will the rehabilitation and reintegration of dangerous and long-term offenders be prevented, thus putting the community at a greater risk when such offenders are released?

A critical examination of the evolution of dangerous offender legislation in nations around the world, as well as the provision of these that are currently in force, will allow for an assessment of Canadian dangerous offender laws. For example, the great number of difficulties encountered after the implementation of community notification protocols for released 'high-risk' offenders in the United States and the United Kingdom, is significant to the possibility of similar problems arising in Canada. The relative success of dangerous offender legislation in the Netherlands is equally significant. We can learn much from the experience of other countries so that, ultimately, we can protect our communities through the effective handling of dangerous offenders.


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