Article by: Canadian Resource Center for Victims of Crime
– There are approximately 240 Canadian offenders incarcerated abroad applying for transfer to Canada to serve the remainder of their sentences in Canadian penitentiaries; only six foreign offenders want to leave. According to the documents prepared by the Conservative government, this ?humanitarian program? costs the federal government about $250,000 a year. Since 1978, 1,294 offenders have been ?repatriated? to allow them to return to Canada for the remainder of their sentences; offenders that include the infamous Albert Walker, who returned to Canada in February. Only 120 foreign offenders being held in Canada have wanted to return to their native countries.
Steve Sullivan, president of the CRCVC, states that “this certainly suggests that Canada has more comfortable conditions than other jurisdictions.” He adds that it is not particularly fair to the taxpayers to fund the cost of transferring offenders, while victims of crime rarely get the same kind of support. “Families whose loved ones are murdered abroad have to pay to bring the bodies back themselves, and it seems like a real shame that we can’t show that kind of sympathy and courtesy to families of victims that we do offenders,” he said.
He recently sat down with Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay to discuss the need for better services for Canadians victimized abroad. He raised examples such as that of Rebecca Middleton who was murdered in Bermuda in 1996. Rebecca?s father, David, says he had no help or support from the federal government. Minister Mackay made no promises; however he did seem sympathetic and will be reviewing the current situation.
Despite the high cost of transferring offenders back to Canada, the CSC stresses that it is in fact enhancing safety. “There is solid evidence to indicate that if Canadian offenders are deported at the end of their sentence with no structures, support or supervision, their risk to re-offend is elevated.”
Canada has transfer agreements with 75 countries and all 50 states in the US. There are currently approximately 2,120 offenders abroad eligible to return home.