In 1998 while on parole for the sexual assault of an Abbotsford woman, Dean Zimmerman was sent back to jail for severally beating his pregnant wife. In 2005, after being granted early release once again by the Canadian National Parole Board, Zimmerman sexually assaulted a 24-year-old Edmonton woman by holding her captive, tying her up and sexually assaulting her for nine hours.
In 1994 Franklin Shane Dorfer was convicted of breaking into the home of a 69 year old Victoria woman, raping and robbing her. He then broke into a second home and robbed a 71 year old woman. Three years later while out on parole Franklin Dorfer was jailed for six months for a Port Coquitlam break-and-enter. In 2004 he was back on the streets. Shortly thereafter, Dorfer was sentenced to two years in jail for break-and-enter and possession of stolen property. Once again, Dorfer received early parole and is now accused of breaking into the home of an 89-year-old woman in Nanaimo and sexually assaulting her.
In 2005 Brian Edward Abrosimo was arrested for the sexual assault of an 11 year old girl, only days after finishing a six month conditional sentence (served in the community) for assault. Abrosimo has a court history that spans 18 years and includes two previous sexual assault charges, as well as numerous theft, assault and firearm convictions.
In 2004 sexual offender Michael William Gardiner, was released on statutory release in Hamilton. Thirteen days later he sexual assaulted a Hamilton woman, stabbing her multiple times.
In 2005 Colin Daryl Fuson was returned to jail after he was discovered crouching in the shadows in a North Vancouver driveway. Fuson is a violent sexual offender with more than 30 criminal convictions, including break-and-enter and sex offences against adult and teenage females.
In 1999 Clifford Howdle was released on statutory release in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Upon his release, Howdle raped three women over a 36-hour period.
In 2004, convicted sex offender Charles Jamieson left his halfway house in East Vancouver. He then raped five people in Vancouver over a ten day period before being apprehended.
In 2004 Lawrence Sharpe was released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent beating that left a man brain damaged. Twice during his sentence Sharpe received statutory release from the National Parole Board. Both times Sharpe violated the conditions of his release and ended up back in jail. One month prior to the completion of his sentence the National Parole Board declared Sharpe an unmanageable risk to society, yet no further action was taken to keep him behind bars. Sharpe was released and now stands charged of killing two Regina men.
In 1999 Trevor James Fontaine was sentenced to 5 years in prison for sexual assault and attempted murder. Out on parole four years into his sentence, Fontaine befriended Vanderhoof woman Misty Franklin. He then stabbed her in the back of the neck. The 24 year old mother of two is now a quadriplegic and is kept alive by a ventilator.
In 1988 Eli Ulayuk was convicted of manslaughter. After being granted full parole in 2004 he murdered his Yellowknife parole officer Louise Pargeter during their first meeting.
In 2004 Eric Fish walked away from a Vernon halfway house. Six weeks later, 75 year old Bill Abramenko was beaten during a home invasion and later died in hospital. Fish was charged with this murder, and is the prime suspect in the murder of another Vernon resident, 60-year-old Jeffrey Drake. Drake was killed two weeks after Fish left the halfway house, his body found in Okanagan Lake a month later.
In 1997 convicted killer and young offender Serena Nicotine was transferred to a community home in Saskatoon while serving her sentence. Nicotine along with Catherine McKenzie, another young offender, murdered homeowner Helen Montgomery (who had no knowledge that the girls were violent offenders) by hitting her over the head with a cast iron frying pan and stabbing her 15 times.
Many repeat offender statistics in Canada are deceptively low. One of the reasons for this is that Corrections Canada excludes provincial statistics from their rates (federal and provincial correctional departments do not currently share information with one another). An offender serving time in a federal jail who had previously served time in a provincial jail would not be labeled a repeat offender. Out of 310,000 convictions in 2002-03 only 4281 offenders were sentenced to a federal prison. In addition, Correctional Services statistics do not take into account conditional sentences or other non-prison sentences, which have grown in popularity. Finally, Correctional Services rates do not include offenders that have been free for more than three years. In light of these factors, it is easy to see just how misleading these statistics can become.
The few studies that do attempt to track prior convictions across jurisdictions peg recidivism at alarmingly high rates. Six out of every ten convicted offenders aged 18 to 25 in 1999/2000 had at least one previous conviction, according to a new pilot study of court-based recidivism in seven provinces and two territories. Among these repeat offenders, 72% had multiple prior convictions. Nine out of ten offenders sentenced to a federal corrections facility (meaning at least a two year sentence) had at least one prior conviction either in adult or youth court. (Source: Statistics Canada)
Dangerous and violent offenders terrorize our communities time and time again. These criminals leave victims in their paths of destruction. Victims like Misty Franklin, the 24 year old mother of two who will spend the rest of her life as a quadriplegic.
These criminals also tie up valuable police time. Officers often have a good idea who is a risk to re-offend and then must go out of their way to try to protect society from these criminals. When a crime is committed police time and resources are further tied up in searching for and arresting repeat offenders and compiling evidence against them.
What our justice system lacks, among other things, is the idea that multiple convictions should result in longer or even permanent sentences. Both our courts and our parole boards are enabling long and active criminal careers.
The same pattern repeatedly emerges. A criminal commits a crime, receives little or no jail time, is let out early if he or she does receive any jail time, offends again, once again receives little or no jail time, once again is let out early if he or she does receive jail time and once again re-offends. In some cases this cycle repeats dozens of times over several decades, creating countless new victims.
Unlike certain justice issues, the solution to the problem of repeat offenders is a simple one. Offenders need to receive meaningful sentences. If violent criminals received stiffer sentences, the number of times we would see such criminals back on our streets and in our courts would logically go down. This would be especially true if our criminal code contained appropriate provisions for the sentencing of repeat offenders. A repeat conviction should cause a substantial penalty increase. Procedures should be in place to ensure that criminals deserving of a Dangerous Offender or Long-Term offender designation are labeled as such. Dangerous Offenders should never be paroled.
Multiple sentences should be served consecutively rather than concurrently for multiple offences. (Presently the issue of consecutive vs. concurrent sentencing is at the judge’s discretion, but typically if several offences are committed at once, sentences are served concurrently.) A sentence received should be a sentence served. The whole concept of statutory release is absurd and should be done away with. Parole, the carrot used to promote good behavior behind bars, should not necessarily be scrapped, but should only be available to exceptionally low risk and non violent offenders, not to the general prison population. Probation should not be available one third of the way into a sentence as it presently is, but rather much later in a sentence.
Correctional institutions should keep records that accurately reflect the rate of repeat offenders, using Canada wide numbers, tracking ex-cons indefinitely, and using convictions rather than sentences for their statistics. Corrections Canada should stop the practice of releasing misleading numbers to the public. Finally, parole boards should be held accountable to the public for their decisions.