Lib­er­als tighten prison trans­fer rules

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LOCAL NEWS - RANDY RICHMOND - The Lon­don Free Press

When Tori Stafford’s fam­ily got of­fi­cial no­tice last year that the woman who killed their lit­tle girl had been trans­ferred from prison to a heal­ing lodge, they fig­ured there was noth­ing they could do.

“We didn’t re­ally take into con­sid­er­a­tion it was some­thing we could ad­dress. The let­ter felt like, ’So sad, too bad. This has hap­pened. There is noth­ing you can do,’” the girl’s grand­mother Doreen Graichen said Wed­nes­day.

When her son, Rod­ney Stafford, found out this fall about the trans­fer, he got an­gry. Post­media News broke the story on trans­fer and ral­lies and protests and pub­lic out­rage grew.

To the fam­ily’s sur­prise, and to the sur­prise per­haps of thou­sands of or­di­nary Cana­di­ans who think their voices don’t mat­ter, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment changed the rules Wed­nes­day to pre­vent what hap­pened from hap­pen­ing again, and to send the killer, Terri-Lynne McClin­tic, back to prison. She was trans­ferred late last year to the Oki­maw Ohci Heal­ing Lodge in Saskatchewan.

Fed­eral pris­on­ers will have a harder time be­ing trans­ferred to Indige­nous “heal­ing lodges” if they’re serv­ing long sen­tences, Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said.

Un­der new rules an­nounced Wed­nes­day, pris­on­ers won’t be el­i­gi­ble for trans­fers to heal­ing lodges with­out se­cured perime­ters un­til they’re into the “prepa­ra­tion for re­lease” phases of their sen­tences.

The Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice of Canada also will have to con­sider in­mates’ be­hav­iour and how close they are to be­ing el­i­gi­ble for un­escorted tem­po­rary ab­sences from prison be­fore trans­fer­ring them.

In ad­di­tion, the deputy com­mis­sioner for women will be in­volved in de­ci­sions to en­sure na­tional stan­dards are ap­plied con­sis­tently and rel­e­vant fac­tors are con­sid­ered.

The changes will ap­ply to past and fu­ture cases.

Rod­ney Stafford learned about the new rules from re­porters Wed­nes­day and said he was await­ing word McClin­tic had been sent back or was go­ing to be.

“I’m just sit­ting here in limbo. It’s bru­tal.”

But Stafford said he was pleased the pub­lic protests prompted new rules.

“It’s help­ing keep the pub­lic safe,” he said.

He didn’t seem im­pressed by the no­tion he’d help force the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to make changes.

“It’s all on be­half of my lit­tle girl,” he said.

Tori, 8, was walk­ing home from school in Wood­stock April 8, 2009, when McClin­tic ap­proached her, promised to show her a puppy and lured her into a car driven by Michael Raf­ferty.

The two drove the girl to a re­mote lo­ca­tion north of Guelph where Tori was raped, beaten to death and hid­den in garbage bags in a grove of trees.

McClin­tic, 28, pleaded guilty to first-de­gree mur­der in 2010 and tes­ti­fied at Raf­ferty’s trial in 2012, where he was con­victed of first­de­gree mur­der.

At that trial, McClin­tic’s trou­bled past and vi­o­lent na­ture be­came even more ap­par­ent. She pleaded guilty that same year to as­sault­ing an in­mate at Grand Val­ley In­sti­tute in Kitch­ener, whom she lured into a meet­ing on the pre­tence of seek­ing help from a men­tor.

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