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The Manitoba teen trying to change the dangerous offender designation
WINNIPEG -- One Manitoba teenager has launched a petition in order to lobby the government to add sexual interference to the dangerous offender designation, in order to better protect minors.
A dangerous offender designation is assigned to violent and dangerous criminals by the courts. Those who receive a dangerous offender designation may receive a minimum sentence of two years, or an undetermined amount of time.
Christyna Caldwell, a 16-year-old who lives on a farm near Harding, Man., said right now the designation includes serious personal injury offences, but doesn’t specify if the victims is an adult or minor.
She said by adding sexual interference to the designation, it would indicate whether the victim was under 16..
The grade 10 student said she was motivated to start the petition after a family friend, Zachary Miller, was abducted and abused by child predator Peter Whitmore in 2006. She said Whitmore had been in an out of prison many times before Miller’s abduction.
Whitmore is currently serving a life sentence.
“I was wondering how he could keep flipping in and out of prisons like that without being flagged as a very dangerous person," Caldwell told CTV News. "After doing research I found out about the dangerous offender designation and I was wondering why he had never gotten the designation before."
This got Caldwell thinking that there’s more men out there like Whitmore, which means they are more kids who went through what Miller did.
“My goal for my petition is so that we can prevent stories like Zach's from happening so that pedophiles can be flagged earlier and people can be more aware of them.”
For Caldwell, the petition started out as just an idea. Then a family friend, who is a sergeant with the RCMP, got her in touch with some crown attorneys in Winnipeg who helped her finalize her idea.
Finally she got in contact MP Larry Maguire to create the petition, which was launched on Feb. 19.
As of Friday afternoon, the petition has more than 870 signatures, though it only needed 500 in order to be presented to the justice minister.
Caldwell said her goal is to get 1,000 signatures.
“I’m thinking even higher than that and as many as I can get, because the more people that know about it and the more people that support it, it will pack a bigger punch when it’s presented to the Minister of Justice.”
After May 19 – 90 days after the petition was launched – Maguire will schedule a meeting with the minister to speak on the teenager’s idea.
Caldwell said most people have been supportive of her petition, especially Miller, who inspired the idea to begin with.
"He is totally on board with it and he’s working really hard to help support it.”
Caldwell’s petition can be found online.