Monday, May 3, 2010
Get out of jail fee law
The imminent release of convicted sex offender Roger Borsch — the former soldier who molested a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint in The Pas in 2004 — is a perfect example of why Canada needs to quash its get-out-of-jail free law.
Borsch is scheduled to be released from prison May 31 on statutory release. That’s where inmates are released automatically after serving two-thirds of their sentence even if they don’t qualify for parole.
In other words, an inmate can be a troublemaker behind bars, refuse to take programming or therapy and show no remorse for their crimes, and still be released after the two-thirds period is up.
Even inmates with recent parole breaches are eligible for statutory release.
That’s exactly the category Borsch falls into.
He was released on day parole in July 2009 but breached his conditions when he tested positive for cocaine use. He was arrested and returned to prison.
National Parole Board documents indicate Borsch showed little remorse for his extremely violent sexual molestation, which means he is not even close to being ready to return to society.
But under Canada’s kangaroo court-like laws, he will be released May 31 anyway and ordered to live in a halfway house.
Under our laws, Borsch’s liberty rights trump the rights of the public to live safely in their community.
I would have no problem releasing Borsch into the community eventually if he had successfully completed substance abuse treatment, anger management therapy and sex offender treatment, and if he demonstrated insight into his crimes and expressed remorse for them.
At that point, if he was assessed a low-risk to re-offend, it would be appropriate to begin his reintegration into society.
But that’s not what we do in Canada.
We don’t put public safety first, we put it last. I’m not sure how that developed over time. But it is a reality that needs to be reversed.
Statutory release is not parole. Inmates have to earn parole. They have to demonstrate that they’re ready to become law-abiding, productive members of society.
Parole, executed properly and cautiously, is good corrections.
But that’s not what statutory release is. Statutory release is bad corrections. It rewards undesirable behaviour, like Borsch’s, and it puts public safety at risk.
Parole is based on sound risk assessment policies.
Statutory release is driven by budget-cutting.
The only reason it exists is to try to take pressure off the inmate population.
It’s a cost-cutting measure and everybody knows it.
I have no problem as a taxpayer ensuring corrections — both provincially and federally — have the resources they need to handle a growing prison population.
If we have money for a $115-million football stadium and hundreds of millions for a human rights museum — which are both discretionary items — we have the resources to keep inmates like Borsch in custody until they’re ready to return to society.
The money is there. It just has to be directed away from discretionary items and from wasteful, bureaucratic spending.
Anyone who says we can’t afford good corrections is dead wrong.
The reason we use stat release, is because if we dont, and we detain criminals until their warrant expiry date, they are automatically released, with no conditions and no supervision and no obligations. That is a recipe for disaster! They would be given no assistance in reintegration or rehab and would likely resort back to crime. We need to offer these offenders a chance to be in the community for successful reintegration to take place. I do think however; that programming in prison should be mandatory in order for an offender to be granted parole. But stat release should remain.