Saint John needs sex-offender data, deputy mayor says

Saint John's deputy mayor wants detailed information about sex offenders released into the city.

Rinehart wants to make sure area isn't 'over-taxed'

Saint John's deputy mayor wants detailed information about sex offenders who are released into the city.

Shelley Rinehart is putting a motion to council Monday requesting data about the type and severity of the offences, the sentences given and psychiatric opinions about the likelihood the individual will re-offend.

"There certainly is concern," she said Friday.

Her motion comes amid controversy over the release of Roger Roberge in Saint John, who served 12 years for sexual assault and forcible confinement. Saint John Police Force warned in April that he was "a high risk to reoffend sexually and violently against females and other vulnerable persons."

Around the same time, serial offender John O’Brien, dubbed the Motorcycle Rapist, was released in Saint John. O'Brien committed his offences in Halifax, N.S.

A third sex offender was released Friday. Morgan Earl Smith was sentenced to 11 years in jail in 2002 for sexually assaulting two girls at knifepoint.

Smith completed his entire sentence and could have been free from any conditions. He voluntarily agreed to 30 conditions before he was released, including staying away from children. He could be sent back to jail if he violates them.

"I’m not asking for personal information here, I’m looking for aggregate data," Rinehart said.

Protect community, rehab offenders

She called her motion a "fact finding" one with two goals:

  1. Ask the government ministers responsible to provide data on how releases are done, how many have happened and how offenders are distributed across Canada.
  2. Meet with senior city and law enforcement officials in the Saint John area to understand how those decisions are made and what measures are in place to protect the community.

"I want to ensure we do everything we can to get the proper restrictions in place when individuals do come into our community," she told Information Morning Saint John Friday.

She said citizens tell her they want to be certain their community is protected from offenders, while at the same time ensuring those who have served their time can be rehabilitated.

"Information is power. We need to understand not who we’re dealing with, but what we’re dealing with," she said.

Rinehart said the information might already be available, but she "wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth" from law enforcement agencies. "I think it’s important for us to have dialogue with the officials so they do understand that at least in my opinion right now, our community is particularly sensitive to this type of issue."

She wants to be sure no particular area is "over-taxed."

"It’s not a case of don’t send them here, but let’s be respectful and equitable about how we distribute — it’s not just about sex offenders, it’s any type of offender. How do we participate and do our part to help those people rehabilitate, but at the same time protect our citizens?" she asked.

Rinehart has not spoken to law-enforcement agencies about the motion, but intends to.