Manitoba announces new plans for people granted bail, high-risk offenders

The Manitoba government is investing in programs to increase the supports and supervision of high-risk offenders and those who have been granted bail in the province.

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced the programs on Monday, saying they will improve public safety by offering interventions for those on probation supervision and those awaiting trial.

Beginning this month, the province is allocating more resources to the Criminal Organization High-Risk Offender Unit, which is a probation program that targets offenders identified as posing a high-risk to public safety. The new resources include a full-time psychologist, and additional probation officers and community corrections workers.

“These programs will see that those who are granted bail are given appropriate community supports and supervision required when they are released from custody pending court hearings to lower the risk posed to the community,” said Goertzen.

“The Manitoba government has been a leading voice in the need for bail reform to stop accused repeat violent offenders from too easily getting bail. A commitment from the federal government to make bail harder to obtain for repeat violent offenders and strong provincial programs to monitor those on bail will make our streets safer.”

With the new investments, the program will be able to provide supervision services for up to 100 additional offenders, doubling its current capacity.

Manitoba will also be launching a pilot program later this spring for adult bail management. The program will start in Winnipeg with 25 men and 25 women.

Through this program, individuals with pending serious charges will be given increased supervision and support once they are granted bail with the goal of addressing public safety concerns and improving compliance of release order conditions.

The province’s third investment involves and upcoming request for proposals for an electronic monitoring program aimed at crime prevention and reducing burdens on police forces.

Manitoba notes that many Canadian jurisdictions use secure and confidential electric monitoring of judicially reviewed offenders, and that the province will be seeking a technology platform to help the Department of Justice in supervising offenders.

“As we continue to push for legislated bail reform, it’s important all criminal justice system stakeholders do their part to help protect the community. I support the additional justice resources and tools announced today,” said Chief Danny Smyth of the Winnipeg Police Service.

“These initiatives will make it tougher for violent and chronic offenders to commit crimes and further engage in violent behaviour while on judicial interim release.”

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