A pair of associations say the Alberta government is planning to close a program that treats sex offenders.
According to the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and Criminal Defence Lawyers Association, the province intends to close the Phoenix sex offender treatment program by March 2017.
The two associations said the closure would be detrimental to public safety, and can’t be justified by any reasonable economic or scientific research.
“We know the results for those who complete the program have generally been little short of phenomenal,” read a media release from the associations.
The Phoenix Program, which operates out of the Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, provides jailed sex offenders treatment for a year that starts near the end of their sentence and continues after an offender’s release.
A study tracked 120 program participants over a three-year period and 3.3 per cent of them re-offended, according to the associations.
The two criminal lawyer associations said an important aspect of the program’s success has been the therapeutic effect of a hospital setting, as opposed to a prison environment “where offenders contend with a hostile and negative environment.”
In 2014, Alberta Health Services said it was working with Corrections and the Solicitor General’s Office to develop a new sex offender treatment program after two reviews by a provincial expert committee and the Institute for Health Economics recommended the program move from Alberta Hospital Edmonton to a correctional facility.
“We have concluded that, based on best international practice, a sex offender program is more appropriately delivered in a correctional facility, and not a hospital,” read an AHS online post.
However, the associations claim the province’s replacement plan for the Phoenix Program is at the Calgary Correctional Centre. They said it will provide six hours of treatment per week, which would be drastically less than the 35 hours per week provided by Phoenix.
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