Liberals tighten prison transfer rules
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.