A complicated process

Bonnie Learning
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Dangerous or long-term offender status not an easy process, says justice department

Sem Paul Obed, a violent offender from Labrador, was released from a penitentiary in New Brunswick on Aug. 29.  He does not have official dangerous of long-term offender status.

The Department of Justice said designating someone a dangerous or long-term offender is not as simple as one might think, despite their criminal history. 

This comes after concerns were raised about the release on Aug. 29 of a known violent offender, Sem Paul Obed, after serving his full two-year sentence at a penitentiary in New Brunswick.

Obed was sentenced in 2012 after a brutal attack against a bartender in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He does not have official dangerous or long-term offender designation.

“The process to have an offender deemed one of these categories can be complicated,” said a Department of Justice spokesperson in a email to The Labradorian.

“First, the offender must have committed a ‘serious personal injury offence’ as defined in s. 752 or an offence as defined in s. 753.1(2)(a) (of the Criminal Code). The prosecutor will have to consider the offender’s record and any pattern of behaviour, as well as the sentences previously imposed. “The prosecutor will consider any psychiatric evidence available to him or her. The prosecutor must also consider the sentence likely to be imposed. If it is believed that the offender may meet the requirements set out in s. 753 (dangerous offender) or s. 753.1 (long-term offender), the Crown attorney may make application to the court to have the person assessed.”

The spokesperson said if the court is satisfied that the requirements in s. 752.1 have been met, it may order an assessment report to be completed by experts.

“The report is usually prepared by a psychiatrist, and if necessary, in conjunction with other professionals, who have relevant professional knowledge to include,” said the spokesperson.

“The report will contain an expert’s clinical assessment of whether an offender may be a dangerous or long-term offender, a decision that normally focuses upon the assessed risk of the offender committing future violent offences and whether that risk can be controlled by means other than incarceration.”

The spokesperson said once the report is prepared it is supplied to the court, Crown and defence counsel, and if the report supports a designation of dangerous offender, or long-term offender, the Crown attorney, with the attorney general’s written consent, may apply to have the offender designated.

“This usually requires a further hearing before the court where evidence is presented in support of the request for a designation,” said the spokesperson. “The court, if satisfied that the evidence establishes one of the requirements set out in s. 753(1)(a) or s. 753.1(1), then the court may designate an offender as either a dangerous offender or a long-term offender.”

The spokesperson said the Department of Justice does not keep statistics on the applications that have been made or the current individuals subject to the dangerous or long-term offender designation. 

“Information on the individuals deemed as such may be available through Correction Service of Canada, which administers the sentences of any such offenders,” said the spokesperson, adding provisions exist for victims to request information about a dangerous or long-term offender’s release and notification will be made if the victim has indicated a wish to receive the information. 

“This can either be done directly through a request for victim notification to the Parole Board of Canada, or through the assistance of the provincial victim services office.”

The spokesperson said in addition to the provisions for dangerous offender and long-term offender designations, the province monitors known or suspected offenders and where appropriate makes application for persons to enter into recognizances under s. 810.1 or s. 810.2 of the Criminal Code.  

“Sexual offenders under the supervision of adult probation are assessed for risk and notifications to the community and/or victims are completed accordingly,” said the spokesperson.

 

bonnie.learning@tc.tc

Organizations: Department of Justice, Correction Service of Canada, Parole Board of Canada

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Happy Valley, Goose Bay

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