This month, a small neighbourhood in Bradner got a new resident – a very unwelcome one.
James Conway, a convicted sex offender, had just moved from Delta, and police issued a public warning that he was now in Abbotsford.
It’s easy and entirely understandable that many people simply say, “Not here!”
But if not here, then where?
No community wants a sex offender in its midst, particularly one that has a history of targeting children, and especially one who has previously breached his court-ordered conditions.
So, what to do with these individuals?
Certainly, changes in the justice and corrections system are badly needed.
The widespread concern among locals reveals a lack of confidence in the way our system handles such offenders – and for good reason.
Conway’s repeated violations of the conditions of his release call into question the efficacy of penalties for those who break the rules imposed on them when they are permitted to live in the community.
Twice in the space of a year, Conway breached his conditions. And yet, he is again out of prison. One does not have be a law-and-order type to see the reasons for extreme anxiety on the part of his new neighbours.
It’s somewhat reassuring to know that Conway will be under electronic monitoring and have to abide by strict conditions, including having to be accompanied by an approved adult when leaving his home.
But deeper thought needs to be given about the neighbourhoods sex offenders are allowed to move into. Some may feel that a rural area is a good place for such an individual. However, residents there rightly fear their children become higher profile targets, and there are fewer eyes to see trouble if it occurs.
The concept of reintegration into society needs to be examined. Clearly, this tenet of social engineering is not in sync with widespread public perception and opinion.