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article image10-year anniversary of Christopher's Law in Ontario

By KJ Mullins     Apr 27, 2011 in Crime
Orillia - The murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson should never have had a chance to happen. In 1988 young Christopher's life was taken by a man who was a convicted pedophile in Brampton.
His death was not in vain, today Ontario has a law named after the child, Christopher's Law to help protect other children.
The death of Christopher Stephenson reads like a horror movie. The little boy was abducted by Joseph Fredericks on Father's Day weekend in 1988. For over a day and a half Fredericks tortured the child before slitting his throat and dumping him.
Police had raced to the scene within three minutes of the abduction. They did the right thing but they didn't have the one vital tool that could have helped solve the crime before a young boy's family would be grieving.
Frederick's was known to the police. He was a sex offender. He had served time. The only problem was that the police didn't know that he lived in Christopher's neighbourhood. In 1988 it was not required of the police to have an electronic registry of where sex offenders lived. If they had Christopher may have survived.
Jim and Anna Stephenson tirelessly used the death of their son to protect other children in Ontario. Today they were welcomed to a gathering recognizing the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Christopher's Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000. The event included the dedication of a plaque in Christopher's honour at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia and the debut of a new training video for front-line police officers.
The Hon. Jim Bradley, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services said in a press release, "Inspired by the dedication of Jim and Anna Stephenson and sustained by the commitment of Ontario's police officers, the Ontario Sex Offender Registry is an effective tool to help apprehend offenders and protect the vulnerable in our communities."
It would take eight long years before the Ontario Premier Mike Harris would launch a provincial sex offender registry named for the child who suffered the ultimate crime. On April 23, 2001 Christopher's Law came into being.
Critical information about sex offenders can be checked by police when they investigate a crime. The registry includes those who were found not criminally responsible for on account of mental disorder in the database. By 2008 Ontario had the highest compliance rates of all sex offender registries with 96 percent of registered sex offenders being compliant.
"Although we already lead the way in Canada, we are making the sex offender registry an even more effective tool to help police prevent, investigate and solve sex crimes and keep our communities safe," said Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci. "These new provisions will help police better monitor offenders who are in the community before completing their sentence."
This information is vital for investigators. Police must act quickly when a child is in the hands of a sexual predator. Forty-four percent of murdered children who have been abducted for a sexual purpose are murdered within the first hour. Three hours later that figure climbs to 74 percent. If a child is not found within the first day there is a 91 percent likelihood they have already been killed.
Staff Sgt. Adam Alderson, Manager - Ontario Sex Offender Registry said in a press release, "Christopher's Law represents a vital step to protect vulnerable people by providing police with an investigative tool that enhances public safety and crime prevention. It provides front-line officers with important information that improves their ability to investigate sex-related crimes, as well as monitor and locate sex offenders."
The public does not have access to this database. It is only used by law enforcement to improve their ability to solve sex-related crimes by locating sex offenders in the community.
In March 2011 the McGuinty Government proposed to amend the sex offender registry with Bill 163 adding:
* Reporting obligations - to enable the province to require offenders to report within seven days instead of the current 15
* The addition of offenders convicted outside of Canada, and
* The addition of offenders pardoned under the Criminal Records Act
Ontario is the only province in Canada to have a sex offender registry.
More about Christopher Stephenson, Christophers Law, sex offender registry, Ontario, Pedophile
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