Ontario's Sex Offender Registry

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario's Sex Offender Registry

Backgrounder

Ontario's Sex Offender Registry, the first of its kind in Canada, was
sparked by the tragic 1988 murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson at the
hands of a convicted pedophile on federal statutory release. At the 1993
inquest into Christopher's death, the coroner's jury recommended creating a
national registry for convicted sex offenders, requiring that they register
with their local police service as soon as they are released from jail.


With the support of the Stephenson family, victims' groups and law
enforcement organizations, the province proclaimed Christopher's Law (Sex
Offender Registry), 2000 on April 23, 2001, making the Ontario Sex Offender
Registry a reality.

MANDATORY REGISTRATION FOR CONVICTED OFFENDERS

Ontario's registry is routinely checked by police services in the course
of their investigations. It provides critical information (offender's name,
date of birth, current and historical address, photo, and other pertinent
details, such as the nature of each offender's crime) on offenders in the
community.

The registry helps police investigate sex-related crimes and helps locate
offenders in a particular geographic area. The legislation defines specific
sex offences for which a person, if convicted or found not criminally
responsible for on account of mental disorder, must register.

Mandatory registration applies to those individuals convicted of a sex
offence in Canada and who were (a) serving a sentence for that offence on the
day Christopher's Law was proclaimed or (b) convicted of a sex offence on or
after the day the legislation came into force. Other individuals required by
law to register are those who have been found not criminally responsible for a
sex offence on account of a mental disorder, and who have received an absolute
or conditional discharge on or after the day the legislation came into effect.

The registry is administered by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf
of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. As of November
28, 2008, 8,513 sex offenders were on the registry.

THE AUDITOR GENERAL'S FINDINGS

The auditor general conducted an audit of the registry and tabled his
report in the legislature on December 11, 2007.

The report commended the province for diligent and cost effective work over the
past six years in establishing and maintaining the registry, and made
recommendations for improvement.

The report pointed to the need to strengthen procedures in some areas to
ensure that all offenders who should be in the registry were registered and to
make the registry more useful for police investigations.

The report also recommended that the ministry amend Christopher's Law to ensure
that the following persons register:

- Sex offenders serving an intermittent sentence (e.g., on weekends)
- Sex offenders released on a temporary absence pass
- Persons found not criminally responsible on account of mental
disorder for a sex offence and who are released on a day pass
- Sex offenders released on bail pending an appeal.

WHAT HAS CHANGED

The legislative amendments now coming into effect respond directly to
these recommendations.

The new legislation:
- Requires sex offenders serving an intermittent sentence to register
within 15 days of sentencing (previously, they were not required to
report until they had completed their sentence)
- Requires that all those who are released on bail pending an appeal in
relation to a sex offence must register
- Requires police services to notify the Ontario Sex Offender Registry
immediately if they receive a notification from a mental health
facility that a person who has been found not criminally responsible
on account of mental disorder for a sex offence is being released
from the facility unsupervised
- Requires that provincial correctional facilities notify the Ontario
Sex Offender Registry of all sex offenders who are released from a
correctional facility on an unescorted temporary absence pass
24 hours prior to their release
- Requires that sex offenders report to their local police within
15 days of changing their name.

Most of the remaining recommendations were operational or technical in
nature and the ministry is already implementing them through improved
co-operation with police and the Correctional Service of Canada and changes to
the registry itself.

COMPLIANCE RATE

The Ontario's Sex Offender Registry has a compliance rate of more than 96
per cent, one of the highest compliance rates of all sex offender registries
in operation, including registries in the United States.

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