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Tories push for monitor anklets for sex offenders

OPPOSITION Tories say the Selinger government should not delay expanding the electronic monitoring program to include high-risk sex offenders.

Progressive Conservative justice critic Reg Helwer said a University of Manitoba student's report examining the province's use of the GPS-equipped anklets for high-risk car thieves shows it makes some offenders less likely to commit a crime.

"As negative as some people might look at this report, it says 44 per cent of youth said that this would make them less likely to commit auto theft. Well, that's a huge success," Helwer said. "Any effect is better than the poor results the province has had in the rest of the criminal justice system."

The Tories have long argued the anklets should be attached to high-risk sex offenders who have just been released from jail and are under strict court orders.

The report, prepared by U of M criminology student Ashley Pearson, said while the province's experience with the anklets had some success in reducing auto theft, it may not be the best way to monitor other offenders.

The province also commissioned an independent review into the electronic monitoring program, which it started in April 2008 and expects to be finished by the end of the fall.

The Selinger government has already said it may expand the program to include domestic-violence offenders.

Helwer said the province has no choice but to expand the program despite the added cost to a government with an almost $1-billion deficit.

"What about the cost to society that these crimes have created?" he said. "A loss of life or a loss of anything else is an expense to the individual and society.

"Is it going to cost the government money? Yes, but one of the things the government is supposed to do with taxes is deal with criminal issues."

The annual cost of monitoring high-risk car thieves with anklets is about $113,150, Pearson said in her report.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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