McClintic case puts vic­tims’ rights in spotlight

PressReader - Tke Channel - McClintic case puts vic­tims’ rights in spotlight
The con­tro­ver­sial trans­fer of con­victed mur­derer Terri-Lynne McClintic to an Abo­rig­i­nal heal­ing lodge shows that Canada’s cor­rec­tions sys­tem needs im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing more rights for the vic­tims of crime, ac­cord­ing to new com­men­tary from the Mac­don­ald-Lau­rier In­sti­tute.“Over the past years our jus­tice sys­tem has con­sciously cho­sen to give vic­tims of crime an in­creased aware­ness of how cases are be­ing dealt with and a voice when de­ci­sions are be­ing made,” se­cu­rity ex­pert Scott Ne­wark writes for the think­tank.“The McClintic case clearly demon­strates a con­tra­dic­tion of these prin­ci­ples.”Ne­wark ar­gues that vic­tims of cer­tain types of crime should al­ways be no­ti­fied if an of­fender is be­ing trans­ferred or if their se­cu­rity sta­tus is chang­ing, provided they reg­is­ter with the Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice of Canada (CSC).He also be­lieves they should be able to make sub­mis­sions in trans­fer de­ci­sions.McClintic, who pleaded guilty to the first-de­gree mur­der of eight-year-old Tori Stafford in 2010, was trans­ferred months ago to the Oki­maw Ohci heal­ing lodge on the Neka­neet First Na­tion in Saskatchewan.The story sparked out­rage last month when Tori’s fa­ther, Rod­ney Stafford, went to the me­dia af­ter learn­ing about the trans­fer, ap­par­ently when cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials con­tacted him about a re­quest McClintic had made for a day pass.He ar­gued the trans­fer to a heal­ing lodge was akin to giv­ing his daugh­ter’s killer a free pass.Amid calls from the Con­ser­va­tives for the de­ci­sion to be re­versed, Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale last month or­dered the com­mis­sioner of the cor­rec­tional ser­vice to con­duct a re­view of the case, but in­sisted he could not per­son­ally in­ter­vene. That re­view is on­go­ing.In his es­say, Ne­wark agrees that “the gov­ern­ment is cor­rect to re­sist this kind of caseby-case de­ci­sion-mak­ing by politi­cians.” But he ar­gues the fed­eral vic­tim's om­buds­man should be con­duct­ing the re­view, not the CSC it­self. “CSC has a demon­stra­ble his­tory of closed-door de­ci­sion-mak­ing … and there­after be­ing eva­sive and ob­struc­tive when asked ques­tions re­gard­ing their ac­tions on con­tro­ver­sial cases,” he writes.The vic­tim's om­buds­man ap­point­ment was va­cant from Novem­ber 2017 un­til Oct. 1, when Heidi Illing­worth took up the po­si­tion.Ne­wark sug­gests a series of leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory changes stem­ming from the McClintic case, in­clud­ing pre­vent­ing cer­tain of­fend­ers from be­ing placed in dual medium/min­i­mum-se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties, and pre­vent­ing some of­fend­ers from be­ing trans­ferred to min­i­mum-se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties be­fore hav­ing served a cer­tain amount of time. He doesn't spec­ify what types of of­fend­ers should be tar­geted by the changes.“Thanks to the courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Stafford fam­ily we now have an op­por­tu­nity to learn from what hap­pened in the McClintic case and to make im­prove­ments,” he writes. “It is an op­por­tu­nity that must be acted upon if jus­tice re­mains our goal.”Oki­maw Ohci is a min­i­mu­mand medium-se­cu­rity fa­cil­ity, and McClintic was clas­si­fied as medium se­cu­rity in 2014. She was sen­tenced in 2010 to life in prison with no chance of pa­role for 25 years.Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer has also called for a pol­icy that would pre­vent “a broad class of of­fend­ers,” in­clud­ing McClintic, from be­ing el­i­gi­ble to stay at heal­ing lodges. He sug­gested the pol­icy could ap­ply to those con­victed of mur­der.Ne­wark also points to the fact that Neka­neet First Na­tion Chief Alvin Fran­cis has said the First Na­tion has “no say” in which in­mates are trans­ferred to the heal­ing lodge on their land. He claims that con­tra­dicts the CSC's con­sul­ta­tion re­quire­ments, and calls for manda­tory In­dige­nous con­sul­ta­tion for heal­ing lodge trans­fers and con­sent for non-In­dige­nous in­mates.McClintic has pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied her­self as In­dige­nous, and the CSC says of­fend­ers can self-iden­tify as In­dige­nous at any point dur­ing their sen­tence. How­ever, in­mates do not have to be In­dige­nous to be el­i­gi­ble for trans­fer to a heal­ing lodge.There are cur­rently nine Abo­rig­i­nal heal­ing lodges across Canada, two of which house women of­fend­ers.

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