Thursday, August 5, 2010
Sex offenders should not be in prison
A high-risk sex offender who once told parole officials he gets "a thrill out of terrorizing women" is headed back to prison for leaving a Winnipeg halfway house after failing a drug test.
Christopher Murdock, 46, has been designated a long-term offender who must remain under strict parole-like conditions for a 10-year period expiring in late 2015. He has a lengthy history of sexual assault convictions, including a 1990 attack where he broke into a home, terrorized a family at gunpoint and raped a woman while her children were present.
Murdock was also convicted in 2002 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, only to be granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of his four-year sentence and then breaching conditions on two previous occasions leading to additional jail time of 18 and 24 months respectively.
In his latest crime, Murdock was back at the same halfway house he'd previously fled from in March 2010 after once again being given statutory release. He failed a urine test which showed marijuana in his system, then ran away from the facility and spent two days on the run. RCMP issued a public alert and found him hiding inside a home on the Fisher Branch First Nation. His statutory release was revoked and he was ordered to serve the remainder of his sentence, which expired last month.
Provincial Court Judge Sid Lerner ordered Murdock to spend an additional 18 months behind bars for the charge of being unlawfully at large. The maximum allowed by law is two years.
"He has a very serious, very disturbing background. He is a danger," Lerner said Tuesday. "Knowledge of his whereabouts at all times is a prerequisite for managing his risk in the community."
Lerner said there needs to be "serious consequences" for Murdock's latest breach, even if he didn't commit any new crimes while being sought by police. The Crown had asked for the 18-month penalty, while Murdock's lawyer was seeking something in the range of three-to-six months, court was told.
One of Murdock's conditions is to reside at all times under a community correctional centre, which includes mandatory drug testing and a nightly curfew. Such a provision is rare in Canada and usually reserved for the most prolific offenders. He must also have no unsupervised contact with any children or attend places where they may gather. Murdock's risk to reoffend remains high because he is deemed an "untreated sex offender."
I do not believe that sex offenders should be in prison in most cases, because the negative environment of prison often worsens their "mental illness". There should be separate facilities for sex offenders which emphasize treatment and rehabilitation and risk management strategies and life skills, along with successful reintegration.