BC Corrections and Correctional Service Canada (CSC) say the management and safe reintegration of offenders into communities is a priority.
All offenders fall under one of the two systems. Those serving a sentence of two years or less are managed by BC Corrections, while those over two years are handled by the CSC.
Both agencies are responsible for supervising sex offenders in custody and in the community – assessing their risks and needs, and managing them based on those assessments – during the term of their incarceration or supervision, as laid out by the courts.
BC Corrections spokesperson Amy Lapsley said treatment for sex offenders serving a provincial sentence involves participation in the Forensics Sex Offender Program delivered by registered psychologists. Upon completion of the program, offenders can access sex offender maintenance programming through trained probation staff.
“When an offender fails to participate in court-ordered treatment, BC Corrections will investigate why and, if necessary, recommend breach charges to Crown counsel,” Lapsley said.
Offenders can also go back to prison for breaching other conditions of their parole. For example, sex offender James Conway, whose presence in Abbotsford and now in Mission caused a public uproar, is under conditions until January 2020 that require him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet which monitors his location, not consume alcohol, and remain in his home 24 hours a day unless he is with a supervisor.
Lapsley said there are currently 1,562 sentenced individuals who are being supervised by BC Corrections throughout the province. Of those, 125 are in the Fraser Valley Regional District. Lapsley said the recidivism rate for sentenced sex offenders in communities in 2015/16 was 18.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, there were 2,416 sexual offenders serving a federal sentence in custody in 2015/16 and 1,193 in the community, according to CSC. Individuals convicted of sexual offences represent 17 per cent of the total offender population in custody and 14 per cent of those in the community.
In the Pacific region, which covers B.C. and the Yukon Territory, there were 516 sexual offenders in 2015/16. Of those, 340 were in custody while the remainder were in the community. A further breakdown of the numbers for the Fraser Valley was not available.
CSC spokesperson Jean-Paul Lorieau said federally sentenced sex offenders receive a variety of interventions and services while incarcerated. Programs during community supervision include after-care, counselling and maintenance.
These individuals are assessed upon their entry into prison, and are rated as a high, medium or low risk, and a plan for their treatment is laid out based on their individual needs. These programs while in custody require the offender’s consent and voluntary participation.
“Offenders who refuse to take part in correctional programs are maintained on wait lists and CSC’s staff members work with them in order to encourage them to make positive changes in their lives that contribute to successful reintegration,” Lorieau said.
In addition to sex offender treatment initiatives, these individuals can participate in other interventions such as employment, educational, career and social programs.
Prior to their release into the community, parole officers develop a community supervision plan to outline the measures required for convicts’ safe return to the community.
The types of programs and services required are outlined, including the need for accommodation – for example, a halfway house, which is available only to federally sentenced offenders – and supervision plans.
“Offenders are subject to supervision requirements based on their risk and needs and will be returned to custody if they are believed to present an undue risk to the public,” Lorieau said.
Once an individual has reached the end of their sentence or parole, neither BC Corrections or CSC no longer has any legal mandate over them.
Concerned citizens often suggest that sex offenders should automatically be deemed as “dangerous offenders,” but such status is determined by the court and can be difficult to obtain.
Offenders can fall under this designation after being found convicted of a third violent or sexual offence, but they have an opportunity in court to defend why they should not receive this label.
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