Trans­fer­ring pris­on­ers to heal­ing lodges to be re­stricted, Goodale says

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NATIONAL NEWS -

OT­TAWA — 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 Wed­nes­day.

The move comes af­ter pub­lic anger that Terri-Lynne McClin­tic, con­victed of mur­der­ing eightyear-old Tori Stafford, was moved to a heal­ing lodge in Saskatchewan from a tra­di­tional prison.

McClin­tic was eight years into a life sen­tence for the ab­duc­tion, rape and mur­der of the On­tario girl. Her first el­i­gi­bil­ity for pa­role won’t come un­til she’s served 25 years.

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 will also 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.

Heal­ing lodges are meant to help with Indige­nous in­mates’ re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and to get them ready to re­turn to their com­mu­ni­ties. Goodale said the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to pro­mote “their valu­able role” in fed­eral cor­rec­tions.

There is also a need for the Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice “to in­crease the level of pub­lic aware­ness” about how it makes de­ci­sions, Goodale told re­porters.

“These are de­ci­sions that are not taken lightly or capri­ciously. They are based on ev­i­dence and sound prin­ci­ples, and there needs to be a higher level of un­der­stand­ing of that.”

In ad­di­tion, there must be more mean­ing­ful and use­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion with vic­tims given the an­guish they have suf­fered, he said.

“They need to know that their per­spec­tive is be­ing prop­erly re­spected.”

SEAN KIL­PATRICK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale stands dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa on Tues­day.

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