Mission, BC residents upset by the release-into-the-community of sex offender James Conway protest at the office of Mission Matsqui Fraser Valley MP Jati Sidhu in Mission, BC Friday, August 5, 2016. PHOTO BY JASON PAYNE
MISSION, British Columbia — When the sun shines, the gas station near sex offender James Conway’s new home is a magnet for Slushie-seeking kids.
With a school bus stop and two Pokestops down the street, the Mission neighbourhood is simply the wrong place for a pedophile, say protesters, who are vowing to remain at the roadside near his home with their signs as long as Conway remains in their community.
But where is the right place?
“The ultimate goal is for him to go to a community that’s better funded to deal with him,” said protester Mitch Smith, “or maybe a mental health facility.”
Conway has already tried to settle in Surrey, Delta and Abbotsford. He moved to Mission last weekend.
Convicted three times of sex offences against children, Conway was jailed in April 2014 after he breached the conditions of a previous release. He was fresh out of jail in February 2015 and living in Surrey when he was sent back to jail for sitting beside a teenage girl on a bus, again breaching the conditions of his release.
Surely, a 3rd conviction for child sex abuse ought to be indication that a pedophile is not going to change. Or, how many does it take? How many children have to be molested before the courts realize the obvious - re-integration of chronic pedophiles does not work and puts innocent children at great risk, for the possibility of benefiting a child molester?
In April 2015, he was the subject of a Delta Police warning when he moved to that community.
In August 2015, he moved again, this time to Abbotsford, where his arrival was heralded by protests and several acts of vandalism at his home. For almost a year, a crude hand-painted sign nailed to a power pole at a busy intersection warned passersby about the resident sex offender.
Last Sunday, one community’s fear disappeared — and became another’s.
B.C. Corrections issued a warning about Conway’s move to Mission, noting the high-risk sex offender is on 24-hour house arrest and subject to 25 court-ordered conditions. He cannot leave his house without an approved adult.
For how long?
“His private residence does not violate his court-ordered conditions and B.C. Corrections does not have the legal authority to relocate Mr. Conway from this residence, as we must operate within the confines of his court order,” said spokesperson Amy Lapsley.
Public safety seems to have been of great concern to those planning for Conway’s release from prison, said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “It’s hard to fathom more stringent conditions.”
While the fear over Conway’s presence in Mission is understandable, “reintegration has to happen,” Vonn said. “We are not a society that incarcerates people for life, apart from those who have been designated as a dangerous offender.”
Former inmates are most at risk of reoffending if they don’t find community support and are unable to reintegrate into society, says Dr. Eric Beauregard, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University.
“We also don’t want to fall into the trap of ghettos, where we create a community of sex offenders,” he said. “It’s that kind of association we’re trying to break.”
Vonn also pointed to the “logistical difficulty” of finding a city where an offender like Conway could live without ever seeing a child. “Whatever we wish, 100 per cent safety and security don’t exist anywhere,” she said.
No, but can we shoot for 90 or 95%? Recidivism rates for child sex abusers don't come close to those numbers. This is from Public Safety Canada
Sexual recidivism was measured using the original definitions from the original research reports: 5 data sets used convictions, 4 data sets used new charges (or a new conviction), and one sample used convictions, charges, and additional police information (Manitoba). The five and 10 year recidivism estimates were 17% and 21% for the studies that used only convictions as their recidivism criteria, and 12% and 19% for the studies that used charges and convictions as their recidivism criteria.
Someone please explain to me how the rates were reduced when the criteria was increased?
Given the similarity in the recidivism rates based on convictions alone and charges and convictions, the data was combined to provide overall estimates of sexual recidivism rates. The rates estimated using the combined sample would be closer to the reconviction rate than the re-arrest rate because it appeared that the sources used for the recidivism data contained relatively few charges that did not ultimately result in conviction.
Sexual recidivism rates
Table 2 summarises the recidivism estimates for three distinct time periods, five years, ten years, and fifteen years, for each of the subgroups examined. The overall recidivism rates (14% after 5 years, 20% after 10 years and 24% after 15 years) were similar for rapists (14%, 21% and 24%) and the combined group of child molesters (13%, 18%, and 23%). There were, however, significant differences between the child molesters, with the highest rates observed among the extrafamilial boy-victim child molesters (35% after 15 years) and the lowest observed rates for the incest offenders (13% after 15 years).
Is there any possibility that they took into the consideration the fact that an incest offender after 15 years plus prison time would not have any children in his family to re offend? In most cases his children would have been removed from access by him even if they were still children when he emerged from prison. Consequently, the lowest observed rates are probably irrelevant and should not be considered in the overall rate estimate.
Offenders with a prior sexual offence conviction had recidivism rates about double the rate observed for first-time sexual offenders (19% versus 37% after 15 years). Age also had a substantial association with recidivism, with offenders older than age 50 at release reoffending at half the rate of the younger (less than 50) offenders (12% versus 26%, respectively, after 15 years).
Remember, these aren't actually 're-offend' rates, these are 'caught re-offending' rates. We can't assume every convicted child molester who re-offends has been caught and charged, or convicted. Actual rates would, of course, be higher.
A prior offence doubles the recidivism rates, but no indication how three prior convictions influences the rates. If it's 37% for one prior offence, wouldn't it be 50% or more for three?
Conway is just 41 years old. The report above says offenders under 50 are twice as likely to re-offend as those over 50. That increases Conway's probability of re-offending even more. I don't know what the final probability would be, we are definitely in guessing mode here, but I can't see any possibility of it being less then 50%.
But that's a risk the courts and B.C. Corrections seem willing to take. Probably none of them have small children and live in the area.
As expected, those who have remained offence free in the community were at reduced risk for subsequent sexual recidivism. Whereas the average 10 year recidivism rate from time of release was 20%, the 10 year recidivism declined to 12% after five years offence-free and to 9% after 10 years offence-free. The five year recidivism rate for those who had been offence-free for 15 years was 4%. Offence-free was defined as no new sexual or violent non-sexual offence, and no non-violent offences serious enough that they are incarcerated at the end of the follow-up period.
Remember, these aren't actually re-offend rates, these are 'caught re-offending' rates. Actual rates would, of course, be higher.
But for Sarah Hanson there has to be a better place than her community. “It’s the worst place they could put him,” she said.
The Mission woman started an online petition asking the local MLAs and MP to change the laws.
“I thought the laws need to change. Someone should do something, and I realized that I could.” By Friday afternoon she had collected 1,084 names.
“(Conway) is not ready to be a part of our community,” reads the petition. “Alternative locations should be considered in areas that are not populated with young families.”