“Moderate risk” to reoffend


Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their disinclination to do so.

– Douglas Adams.

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I will never understand why murderers sentenced to “life” are ever released. It’s particularly disturbing to see a convicted murderer, described as “a low to moderate risk to re offend”, ever being worthy of an unsupervised release.

Here are two cases in point:

  • A Victoria man was convicted for killing his parents and two other innocent people in cold blood in 1996. The man (and an accomplice) shot and killed his mother, father and a roomer, then ruthlessly murdered his brother’s girlfriend and left the woman’s infant child alive beside her lifeless body. The child was close to death when found several days later but was revived through extensive medical attention. After 15 years of free room and board at taxpayers expense, this mass murderer was granted a 60-day unescorted temporary absence from prison for substance abuse treatment. The parole board advised that it “recognized he is considered a low to moderate risk to re-offend.” In a secure facility for 15 years how did he become a substance abuser? How do those responsible for his care keep their jobs?
  • In 1969 LaSalle Police Service Cst. Robert Carrick, 23, managed to rescue a gunman’s wife, child and babysitter before being shot and killed in the ensuing battle. His killer shot and wounded two other officers, hitting one in the eye, before being arrested and sentenced to death. This was commuted to “life” when capital punishment was repealed the following year. He served less than 10 years in prison before receiving full parole.

Murder is the final and ultimate crime and requires the final and ultimate penalty; if not capital punishment, then spending the rest of one’s life in prison. The only exception, if there has to be one, would be for people guaranteed not to re-offend. That guarantee comes with someone’s job on the line. Even then, I would require the released prisoner  to live next door to a parole board member who voted for their release. Now THAT is a guarantee!

All too often we see tortured victims and their family members returning time and again to explain to parole boards why the person who killed their loved one should not be released. In most cases, their opposition to release has nothing to do with revenge but rather a concern that no one else should suffer what they have endured.

Toronto Police officer Michael Sweet slowly bled to death in 1980 after being shot by Craig and Jamie Munro in a bungled robbery attempt. The brothers taunted him while he tried to convince them to surrender. Both suspects were convicted of murder and received “life” in prison.

Jamie was later released on parole and moved to Italy, the home of his wife’s family, where he changed his name to Massimo Marra. Craig, the actual shooter, sought release and confronted a very determined investigating officer and family members who simply wanted him to remain behind bars. He lost his bid for parole but won a transfer to a minimum security facility and 15-day unescorted passes from a sympathetic board.

His parole was revoked when he was found to be doing drugs and spending time with hookers on his passes. It was only then that he was sent to a medium security facility and declared a “moderate risk to re-offend.” He still has a right to a parole review every two years and all the victims must trudge to the hearing to, once again, explain why he should never see daylight again.

Munro’s youngest brother Harold recently received ‘Dangerous Offender’ status after a long string of convictions for beatings, slashings and stabbings, drug trafficking, robbery and thefts. Yeah… we all know it is because of their upbringing and environment. We can all do a guilt circle about how society failed him… after we lock him up for life.

Negative stories about parole boards – and a sometimes distant and unfeeling judiciary – abound. Take career bank robber and cop hater Mickey McArthur. The criminal lifestyle he began at age 15 inspired him to write a book about his unrepentence. He told about his lifelong love of robbing banks and escaping prisons.

McArthur was last convicted in 1994 for wounding three Durham Regional Police officers and partially paralysing a woman caught in his hail of bullets while holding up a Port Perry, Ontario bank. Did I mention that McArthur was out on statutory release? None of the stolen money was recovered; McArthur is, no doubt, saving that information for his next book with movie rights and his next parole.

The courts were asked to classify him as a dangerous offender but inexplicably refused. If “poor Mickey” shows a little contrition – he apparently has a way with words – and sheds a few tears, he could soon be your next door neighbour.

The bottom line here is that society must be protected from a few individuals even if only slightly to re-offend. There must come a point where we admit there is no hope. When a person is either cold or crazed enough to take another human life, the prevailing attitude must be that they can never again be trusted. Thanks to a caring and wealthy society, they dodge the death penalty – so send them to a place where they can live out their natural days however they choose, but with no chance of harming the rest of society.

Here is my solution. The feds want people to live in the far north. Ellesmere Island has plenty of land and few neighbours to complain. Air drop food and fuel and suggest they find a way to live with one another… or not; their call.