The Manitoba government is enhancing programs for supervision and services to support bail and community-based sentences, while also launching a new electronic monitoring program for high-risk offenders released to the community.

Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen made that announcement Monday morning.

"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," says 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."

Starting this month, expanded resources will be allocated to the successful Criminal Organization High-Risk Offender Unit, an intensive probation program that targets offenders who have been identified by justice partners as posing a very high risk to public safety. The new resources include a full-time psychologist and an increased number of probation officers and community corrections workers. The program will provide these enhanced supervision services for up to 100 additional offenders, doubling its current capacity.

A pilot adult bail management program will also launch later this spring, beginning in Winnipeg with 25 male and 25 female offenders. Goertzen says this program will see that individuals with pending serious charges before the courts are given increased supervision and support upon being granted bail to address public safety concerns and assist with compliance with their release order conditions.

The Manitoba government will also be engaging in a request for proposals process shortly to implement an improved and state-of-the-art electronic monitoring program. Goertzen says current data demonstrate that in addition to reducing burdens to policing, electronic monitoring can also serve as a proactive approach to crime prevention in communities.

Recent technological improvements have seen electronic monitoring equipment and programming evolve over the last several years. Secure and confidential electronic monitoring of judicially reviewed offenders is offered in many other Canadian jurisdictions. Goertzen says the Manitoba government will also be seeking a technology platform to assist the Department of Justice in providing targeted supervision of offenders.