Monday, March 12, 2007

Rape Witness Protection and Issues of Offender Immigration

There has been much progress made in many criminal justice systems in helping victims/survivors know where their offender is located so they can assess their safety risks. Much of this progress has come in response to victims/survivors being attacked or murdered when they thought their attacker wasn't free and able to get near them.

In many criminal justice systems, crime victims are now notified when their attacker is about to released from jail and in some systems, rape victims can search sex offender databases to know how close their perpetrator is to them or if that person has failed to register.

Having this information is no guarantee of absolute safety, but victims of violent crimes should have the legal right to know when the status of their assailant is up for review or when it will definitely change. Many systems also allow the victim to communicate the harm done by this assailant so whoever is reviewing a change in status understands the crime in a very specific way.

Attorneys representing offenders are going to do their best to paint their clients as no-risk or low-risk at any hearing and if they can hand-pick character witnesses, these offenders may come across as people who simply made a mistake and who will surely obey every law from that moment forward.

As Holly Desimone found out, in Canada right now, victims of violent crimes aren't informed of their assailant's immigration hearings and do not know if non-citizens who have been released from prison are still legally in Canada or if they have been deported.

That is unacceptable.

Last October, I blogged about some of her problems with NIVA which is a victim witness protection program. She was in limbo with the program for so long it became intolerable. When I say limbo, I'm not talking about living a normal life under her own name while her application was pending. I'm talking about being hidden from not only anyone who would want to harm her, but from everyone outside the program who knew her, including family.

Because she doesn't know why her case was in limbo so long, and because she doesn't have the legal right to know the immigration status of her rapist, she really has no solid way of assessing all of her safety issues.

One of the things that rapists do is rob their victims of the ability to control what happens with their bodies. The systems in place to help victims should give victims/survivors as much information and control over their own lives as possible while respecting others legal rights.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:58 AM   4 comments links to this post


At March 12, 2007 8:59 PM, Blogger Holly said...

Thank you for telling my story Marcella, I am hoping the Minister will meet with me, change this current law to help other victims of crime.

Sincerely Holly Desimone

At March 13, 2007 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Canada, my ex husband was put on probation for assaulting me. He applied for an early release from probation. It was granted. I expected a full year of freedom from his harassment. Right after he got freedom from probation, he did something to me that qualified as harassment and I called his probation officer about it - and that is when she told me he was released early.

At March 17, 2007 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

found your site with alas links thank you for posting and highlighting this issue abyss2hope

i would also include difficulties when current and future victims are faced with deported abusers or criminals who travel on passports ie Interpol networks between countries need major improvements too!!!


At April 14, 2007 8:41 PM, Blogger Threat Assessment & Response Canada said...

This coming Tuesday, a man by the name of David Dobson is up for parole. He tortured, raped and murdered a young girl. Afterwards, he taunted the police, the family and terrorized the community. He promised to do it again. In in years of incarceration he has not changed - just talks a better game.

I've blogged about it and the family has a website. This guy wants to avoid the radar of the media and the public. Don't let him!

The system is so messed up... I'm so afraid that they'll let him out. I'm asking you to tell everyone you know.

You know, we tell little kids to say no, and then tell and tell until somebody listens. How long do we have to scream until the system makes change that is meaningful and effective? Politically correct lip service just will not do.

Sorry... ranting on your blog... you can delete whatever you want, lol!

Anyway, I thought you'd be interested.


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