Canada’s youngest dangerous offender, who is from Quesnel, has been denied parole again – 24 years after first being put behind bars. The Parole Board of Canada says it will review the case in a year.
According to documents obtained by Black Press Media, the Parole Board of Canada made the decision on Oct. 21.
Adam Laboucan, who now identifies as a woman and has changed her name to Tara Desousa, was 17 years old when she was handed an indeterminate prison sentence for sexually assaulting a three-month-old boy in Quesnel in 1997.
Desousa is now 39 years old.
In October, Desousa’s lawyers provided written statements requesting the board consider directing correctional staff to develop a timeline for gradual reintegration into the community, as well as grant a conditional release on day parole with “extremely restrictive conditions with required staff supervision.”
However, the parole board said in its decision that Desousa has been generally “non-compliant” and “refused interventions” while in prison, being involved in physical altercations, drug use and other negative behaviour over the past two decades.
Psychological and psychiatric reports were also considered in the decision – including a most recent assessment filed in August 2019, which said that Desousa posed a relatively high risk of future violence. In that report, the psychologists deemed release on day or full parole would be premature, but was supportive of Desousa participating in escorted temporary absences in order to attend group or trauma counselling.
Desousa’s Indigenous heritage was also considered. The parole board heard that Desousa consumed drugs and alcohol at a young age, as well as suffered intergenerational trauma while travelling back and forth between the family home and foster homes.
Since being imprisoned, Desousa said she has worked with elders to use Indigenous teachings to help in dealing with stress management, anger and past trauma.
Desousa told the board her biggest risk is a drug addiction she developed while in prison.
The last time Desousa was denied parole was in 2017 – which was upheld during an appeal process in 2018.
In their most recent decision, the board noted that Desousa hasn’t been in any physical altercations since 2017, has been working to create appropriate boundaries around children and is working with a psychiatrist to handle stressors and address her issues around gender identity.
The board said it is mindful of the length of time served, Desousa’s young age at the time of the offence, the complexities of her mental health and cognitive challenges and the sentencing judge’s ruling that she only be incarcerated for the length of time necessary based on risk.
For these reasons, the board ordered a review for day parole in one year, pending an updated psychological risk assessment.
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