A convicted sex offender, assessed as being high-risk to re-offend, recently failed to return to the community correctional centre he has been assigned to in Dartmouth.
Joshua James Turner has a lengthy history of violent sexual offences, all of which occurred in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
However, as part of a 10-year Long Term Supervision Order (LTSO) that the court imposed on him due to the ‘serious nature’ of his criminal history, he must reside at a Community Correctional Centre.
Although Winnipeg is thousands of kilometres away from Nova Scotia, he ended up being placed at the Jamieson Community Correctional Centre in Dartmouth.
“A thorough evaluation of all offenders is conducted and they are placed in facilities appropriate to their security and program needs,” wrote Esther Mailhot, a spokesperson with the Correctional Service of Canada, in an emailed statement.
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If more than one community-based correctional facility is available in a community, the offender can identify a preferred location.
But that doesn’t mean it will be granted.
“Occasionally, offenders can meet admission criteria to a certain facility and still be refused based on other criteria which can include previous behaviour while incarcerated or on a previous community release. Facilities may refuse accommodation of an offender that they feel would cause undue risk to their staff or other offenders residing in their facility,” Mailhot wrote.
Questions as to whether or not Turner was turned down by community correctional centres in Manitoba before being placed in Nova Scotia were not answered due to privacy laws, CSC stated.
Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Ralph Goodale the minister of public safety, said that long term supervision order are the toughest measure available to prevent high risk cases from re-offending.
“The government cannot simply put someone who has served their sentence back in jail, no matter how reprehensible their crime. To deal with the most difficult cases, the courts, correctional workers, police and community partners put in place and enforce strict measures to ensure the safety of the public,” said Bardsley.
“The Minister does not have the authority to interfere in particular cases.”
He added that under long term supervision orders over 99 per cent of sex offenders do not re-offend within six months.
While the Jamieson Community Correctional Centre is a federally owned and operated institution, the provincial government still plays a small role in informing the general public about high-risk offenders being released into the community.
“A lot of considerations are taken into account when we do release an individual’s name, their photograph and perhaps their criminal history to the public because we have to weigh that public safety piece with privacy,” Roger Merrick said, the provincial director of public safety and security.
As for Turner, public information led to him being rearrested.
According to his parole documents, Turner wasn’t authorized to leave the facility because he doesn’t have a support system and he is both ‘manipulative and opportunistic when it comes to sexually oriented offending.