McGuinty Government Making Sex Offender Registry Stronger



    Changes Will Require More Offenders to Register, Help Police With
    Investigations

    TORONTO, Dec. 11 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is proposing changes to
the Ontario Sex Offender Registry to allow police to track more sex offenders
in the community and help keep Ontario safe, Community Safety and Correctional
Services Minister Rick Bartolucci announced today.
    "Today we have a sex offender registry with a compliance rate of nearly
95 per cent, one of the highest rates of any registry in North America," said
Bartolucci. "I want to assure the people of Ontario that we remain committed
to reaching 100 per cent compliance."
    Bartolucci introduced amendments to Christopher's Law that would, if
passed, require more sex offenders to register, and register sooner, giving
police more tools to prevent, investigate and solve sex crimes.
    Ontario established the sex offender registry in 2001 when Christopher's
Law came into force. Christopher's Law requires sex offenders to register upon
the completion of their sentence.
    In a report on the recent audit of the registry tabled in the legislature
today, the provincial auditor general commended the province for diligent and
cost effective work over the past six years, and made a number of
recommendations for improvement.
    The recommendations call for changes to the legislation to require the
registration of sex offenders who are serving time in the community. Under the
present law, offenders are required to register only when they are formally
released from custody, or upon conviction if not given a custodial sentence.
The government is proposing amendments to the law that would ensure that the
registry is notified promptly whenever a sex offender is in the community,
even temporarily.
    "We are moving immediately to introduce legislative changes, recommended
by the auditor general, that will ensure all sex offenders in the community
are monitored," said Bartolucci.
    "Police across Ontario have come to rely on the registry as an important
tool in investigating sex crimes," said Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair,
president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. "The changes being
introduced today would make the registry even more effective as police would
be better able to track offenders in the community."
    The proposed legislative changes build on other steps the government has
taken to improve the effectiveness of the registry. These include an
arrangement with the Correctional Service of Canada to notify the registry
when sex offenders are released from federal institutions, and administrative
changes that streamline record keeping at the registry, enabling it to provide
police with more detailed and current information on sex offenders.

    Disponible en français

    
                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                       ONTARIO'S SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY
    

    Ontario's Sex Offender Registry, the first of its kind in Canada, was
sparked by the tragic 1988 murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson at the
hands of a convicted pedophile on federal statutory release. At the 1993
inquest into Christopher's death, the coroner's jury recommended creating a
national registry for convicted sex offenders, requiring that they register
with their local police service as soon as they are released from jail.
    With the support of the Stephenson family, victims' groups and law
enforcement organizations, the province proclaimed Christopher's Law (Sex
Offender Registry 2000) on April 23, 2001, making the Ontario Sex Offender
Registry a reality.

    Mandatory Registration for Convicted Offenders

    Ontario's registry is routinely checked by police services in the course
of their investigations. It provides critical information (offender's name,
date of birth, current and historical address, photo, and other pertinent
details, such as the nature of each offender's crime) on offenders in the
community.
    The registry helps police investigate sex-related crimes and helps locate
offenders in a particular geographic area. The legislation defines certain
specific offences as sex offences for which a person, if convicted, must
register.
    Mandatory registration applies to those individuals convicted of a sex
offence in Canada and who were (a) serving a sentence for that offence on the
day Christopher's Law was proclaimed or (b) convicted of a sex offence on or
after the day the legislation came into force. Other individuals required by
law to register are those who have been found not criminally responsible for a
sex offence on account of a mental disorder, and who have received an absolute
or conditional discharge, on or after the day the legislation came into
effect.
    The registry is administered by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf
of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. As of November
2007, 7,909 sex offenders were on the registry.

    The Auditor General's Findings

    The auditor general audited the registry and tabled a report of his
findings and recommendations in the legislature.
    The report commended the province for diligent and cost effective work
over the past six years in establishing and maintaining the registry, and made
recommendations for improvement.
    The auditor general pointed out the need to strengthen procedures in a
number of areas to ensure that all offenders who should be in the registry
were registered and to make the registry more useful for police
investigations.
    The auditor general recommended that the ministry amend Christopher's Law
to ensure that the following persons register:

    
    -  Sex offenders serving an intermittent sentence (e.g., on weekends)
    -  Sex offenders released on a temporary absence pass
    -  Sex offenders found not criminally responsible because of mental
       illness who are released on a day pass
    -  Sex offenders released on bail pending an appeal.
    

    What the Ministry is Doing

    The legislative amendments introduced today respond directly to these
recommendations.

    
    The new legislation would, if passed:

    -  Require sex offenders serving an intermittent sentence to register
       within 15 days of sentencing (currently they are not required to
       report until they have completed their sentence)
    -  Require that all those who are released on bail pending an appeal must
       register
    -  Require police services to notify the Ontario Sex Offender Registry
       immediately if they receive a notification from a mental health
       facility that a person who is not criminally responsible is being
       released from the facility unsupervised
    -  Require that provincial correctional facilities notify the Ontario Sex
       Offender Registry of all sex offenders who are released from a
       correctional facility on an unescorted temporary absence pass 24 hours
       prior to their release.
    

    Most of the remaining recommendations are operational or technical in
nature. The ministry is already working to implement these recommendations by
improving co-operation with police and the Correctional Service of Canada and
making changes to the registry itself.

    Compliance Rate

    Ontario's Sex Offender Registry has a nearly 95 per cent compliance rate,
one of the highest compliance rates of all sex offender registries in
operation, including registries in the United States.

    
    Contact:
    Anthony Brown
    Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
    416-314-7772

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Laura Blondeau, Minister's Office, (416)
325-4973, (416) 938-9757 (cell); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch, (416)
314-7772

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Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

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