Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CANADA - Putting GPS trackers on sex offenders ineffective says provincial NDP candidate

Original Article

09/07/2011

As a former police officer with 20 years of experience in the justice system, along with extensive work in the area of investigation of sex abuse offences, against both adults and children, I feel compelled to speak out against Tim Hudak’s (Facebook, Twitter) policy on crime and punishment.

While it appears the idea of simply putting GPS trackers on sex offenders is going to make the community safer, this is in fact not the case. It would only cause more fear and alarm.

I strongly disagree with Hudak’s proposal for a number of reasons. The estimated cost of this idea as stated by the PCs is 51-million tax dollars, a huge price tag for a program that will do little to make the public safer. It’s also not clear if his proposal will result in conflicts, in regards to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (PDF, Wikipedia) and Human Rights issues, within the justice system and the courts. In other words, it may not even be constitutional.

Eventually the GPS tracker would be removed from an offender when their sentence is served or conditions are lifted in court. Realistically, a GPS tracker could not be placed on a sex offender forever, and eventually the sex offender will be living in our community without this level of monitoring. Money would be better spent to implement and develop programs and services in regards to reintegration and restorative justice; programs that have already been proven to increase public safety.

We need to have resources for offenders where adequate counselling and programs are focused on treatment and corrective behaviour. Not warehousing our young men in jails, or worse forcing them into “chain gangs,” a long abandoned and outlawed practice being promoted by Hudak

Our community’s safety depends on restorative justice circles, community justice programs, and reintegration assistance for offenders upon release with supervised conditions.

This issue is one that shouldn’t be left to the whim of a politician. There must be consultation with people working on the front lines. It’s important to consult with court judges, justice officials, the Ministry of the Attorney General, community interest groups, women’s shelters, sexual assault services, community mental health and addictions services, and police services, to name a few. These suggestions for remedial action are by far the best direction to take with due regard for all parties concerned.

Alex Zyganiuk (Facebook, Twitter)