UPDATED JAN. 14 Kingston Police announced early this morning that Davidson-Brown had left Kingston. They didn’t say where he was headed.
The case of child sex predator Eric William Davidson-Brown (inset) drew a torrent of attention on my social media channels. Since I posted his photo and the details announced by police of his release to Kingston, Ontario, the post has been shared more than 3,000 times and, by late on January 13, had drawn nearly 200 comments. I was surprised since Davidson-Brown isn’t really an unusual case. There are hundreds similar ex-convicts living on the street in Canadian communities every day.
In fact, in 2011, 15 of Canada’s worst criminals, those designated as Dangerous Offenders – who can be kept locked up forever – were living under supervision on the street, free from prison, federal stats show (this doc, p. 103). In addition, as of April 2011, there were 269 high-risk offenders (70% are sex offenders) living in Canadian communities subject to the kind of long-term supervision order that once allowed authorities to track Davidson-Brown.
It’s clear that the reach and speed of social media has accelerated and exaggerated public response to cases like Davidson-Brown, which is not to downplay the seriousness of this situation. He’s a frightening fellow, a peristent child predator with a history of indecent exposures who was once caught with stun guns, duct tape and books filled with the names of addresses of young children. He’s also been convicted in the past of child pornography crimes. The discovery of the stun guns, tapes and books was made when he was apprehended in Northern Ontario in 2002. But Davidson-Brown hasn’t been deemed a dangerous offender and locked up forever. Like most offenders, he has cascaded through the system, back onto the street. The last time he was freed, he was subject to a long-term supervision order. This is a special, court-imposed restriction that allows authorities to track a released offender, typically high-risk sex offenders, for up to 10 years after release from prison. The provision extends beyond the expiry of a criminal’s sentence and his parole. It’s clear that police in Kingston believe Davidson-Brown is still a threat, even though he has completed his long-term supervision order. They went to court and, using a provision in the Criminal Code, had another year-long legal leash slapped on him. Police in Kingston pioneered the use of this tactic, which is now widely used by police agencies across the country to keep tabs on high-risk offenders, particularly sex offenders (like predator Mark Bedford). Under these orders, offenders typically have to stay away from children or the places they can be found, they must report to police regularly and ensure that police have a current address. These conditions apply to Davidson-Brown.
It’s a crude tool, but one of the few available to authorities to track someone in this situation, who has passed the expiry of his parole, his sentence and his long-term supervision order.