Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In 1988, Marlene Moore, the first woman to be designated a "dangerous offender" by Canada's legal system -- even though she had never committed a serious crime -- killed herself in a Kingston, Ontario federal woman's prison. The Canadian TV movie seeks to explain the circumstances that brought the unfortunate Moore to this tragic turn of events. As played by Brooke Johnson, Marlene is shown to be an awkward, withdrawn young girl, cruelly maligned and sexually abused by family and peers alike, and never afforded the moral support or mental-health treatment she deserved. Under these circumstances, Marlene's subsequent self-destructive, sociopathic behavior seems almost predestined, and her many years behind bars for various minor crimes a logical extension of her miserable upbringing. The climactic efforts by her dedicated lawyer to prevent Marlene from being entombed in prison for an indefinite term are heartrending, and Moore manages to evoke audience sympathy almost in spite of herself by the final fade-out. The film earned two Gemini Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Emmies) for both Brooke Johnsonand supporting actress Jayne Eastwood (as Marlene's mother). Originally telecast by the CBC, Dangerous Offender was first seen in America via the Lifetime network on November 7, 1996.