OTTAWA, ON (November 8, 2018): Following an in-depth MLI commentary by Scott Newark on the changes that must be made to our corrections system following the transfer of Terri-Lynne McClintic to a healing lodge, Minister Ralph Goodale announced changes to the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC’s) approach to prisoner transfers.
In a statement, Minister Goodale explained that CSC will immediately begin providing more oversight for women’s transfers, engaging with Indigenous communities prior to prisoners being transferred to those communities, and will start considering factors related to the prisoner’s sentence when making transfer decisions. Furthermore, following a CSC review of the case, McClintic has been transferred back to a medium-security prison.
“It is encouraging to see that the directions from the Minister are relevant to the issues that have been identified in the McClintic case,” says MLI commentary author, Scott Newark. In particular, he commends the “targeted restrictions for select offender transfers and mandated consultation with Indigenous communities in healing lodge transfers.”
While the government should be applauded for these positive first-steps, there is plenty of work to do to ensure that no future victims or victims’ families have to endure the plainly unfair treatment that the Staffords faced.
“While these appear to be steps in the right direction, noticeably absent is a commitment to providing victims with the relevant information relating to a possible security reduction or the transfer of an offender in defined circumstances.”
In his commentary, Newark identifies a number of structural reforms to improve the corrections system. Recommendations that remain unaddressed or only partially addressed include:
- notifying registered victims when perpetrators of defined offences seek security reductions or transfers and providing them with the opportunity to make submissions in transfer decisions
- including consideration of principles of sentencing in transfer decision-making
- prohibiting defined offender placement in dual medium/minimum-security facilities
Furthermore, Newark cautions that while the measures introduced are positive, we have yet to see the specific legislative or policy changes.
“As always in matters involving CSC, we'll need to see the fine print to assess the real impact of these announced changes.”
To learn more about the important reforms that still need to be made to our corrections and criminal justice system, read Newark’s full commentary here.
Scott Newark is a former Alberta Crown Prosecutor who has also served as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair of the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, Director of Operations for Investigative Project on Terrorism and as a Security Policy Advisor to the governments of Ontario and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the TRSS Program in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.
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