City cops ‘winning battle’ against sex offenders

City cops ‘winning battle’ against sex offenders
Enhancing public safety through corrections and parole reform for repeat offenders

Edmonton Sun
Author: Pamela Roth

Canadians have rightly been gripped by the plight of the Hebert family of Sparwood, B.C., whose three-year old son was abducted, with Randall Hopley, a convicted sex offender and career criminal, the prime suspect. While Kienan Hebert has thankfully been returned home safely, this incident, along with other high-profile crimes committed by repeat offenders, illustrate clear deficiencies in the justice system that require immediate attention.

Dealing effectively with crime is an inherently complex issue in part because of the number of independent institutions within the justice system, such as the police, prosecution, courts, corrections and parole boards, all of which need to co-ordinate their efforts to support public safety.

These institutions already treat dissimilar individuals, such as young offenders, in different ways. For example, there is a concerted effort to use pro-active steps to try to prevent young people from getting involved in crime, and even when they do, we sensibly use more lenient measures to provide alternatives and life structure so that young people make better choices and stop committing crime. If early intervention and youth-specific strategies can get young offenders back on the path to productive, law-abiding lives, without burdening the taxpayer with the financial and social costs of incarcerating them, all Canadians will be better for it.

But one of the grim realities confronting our justice system is that a disproportionately large volume of crime is committed by a disproportionately small number of repeat offenders. The justice system has tools to deal with these sorts of individuals, including long-term imprisonment where, at best, correctional programming can build positive behavioral changes and, at worst, the simple expedient of incarceration eliminates their criminal potential for that time in custody. The length of imprisonment for most crimes is determined by a sliding scale that considers both the severity of the crime and the criminal’s unique characteristics, including criminal history.