Give Karissa a Voice move­ment un­der­way

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - KATHY JOHN­SON TRICOUNTY VAN­GUARD

Out­rage is grow­ing over su­per­vised leaves from prison for Penny Boudreau, the mother who mur­dered her daugh­ter Karissa in Bridge­wa­ter on Jan. 27, 2008 and then said the 12-year-old girl ran away, leav­ing her body un­found for more than a month on the banks of the LaHave River.

Boudreau was sen­tenced to life in prison with no chance of pa­role for 20 years af­ter plead­ing guilty to se­cond-de­gree mur­der in the death of Karissa in Bridge­wa­ter Supreme Court on Jan. 30, 2009.

Af­ter nine-and-a-half years be­hind bars, on June 28 Boudreau was granted four es­corted leaves from prison over the next year to at­tend church by the Pa­role Board of Canada. She must be es­corted by two cor­rec­tional ser­vice staff who are to re­main within sight and sound of her at all times dur­ing the fourhour leaves.

The news came as a shock to Karissa Boudreau’s fam­ily.

“The fam­ily didn’t know prior to the de­ci­sion be­ing made, they didn’t know any­thing about it be­cause they weren’t even told they needed to be prop­erly reg­is­tered as vic­tims and so they found out like every­body else did, on so­cial me­dia,” said Wendy Whalen, a close friend of fam­ily.

“They didn’t know un­til af­ter the fact, af­ter the de­ci­sion was made, so they were quite shocked,” she said, adding the fam­ily has now gone through the proper chan­nels to reg­is­ter with Vic­tim’s Ser­vices so that any­thing that comes up from here on in they’ll be con­tacted and be given a chance to have their say.

In the mean­time, a grass­roots move­ment is afoot to have the pa­role board re­voke its de­ci­sion to al­low Boudreau passes to at­tend church.

“Ide­ally the goal is to get (the passes) re­voked, but up we’re up against the Pa­role Board of Canada and they’re not known to change their mind. We’re not go­ing to hold our breath on it. We’re go­ing to fight it tooth and nail as much as we can,” said Whalen. “It’s quite un­fair. It’s not right. She killed her daugh­ter. She planned it and car­ried it out. She stran­gled her with her bare hands and she’s got a life sen­tence and there’s where she needs to stay. She’s got no right to be out there go­ing to church. Karissa is six feet un­der. She has no say in this. That’s why we started the hash­tag #givekaris­saavoice.”

Whalen said nu­mer­ous let­ters have been writ­ten to the pa­role board in op­po­si­tion to Boudreau’s passes, and an on­line pe­ti­tion has gath­ered just over 3,600 sig­na­tures.

“We want the pub­lic to know what’s go­ing on and peo­ple are out­raged. They don’t want to see Penny Boudreau be given any of these priv­i­leges. A lot of peo­ple have writ­ten let­ters to the pa­role board. I hope some­body pays at­ten­tion to us and hears our voice and know that is to­tally dis­gust­ing what has hap­pened,” said Whalen. “She should not be get­ting out. The more peo­ple that join us, the more at­ten­tion we get so who knows what will come out of this.”

Whalen, who is a close friend of Karissa’s aunt on her fa­ther’s side, has been by the fam­ily’s side since the hor­ror story be­gan to un­fold.

“From when she was miss­ing to all the court ap­pear­ances…it will soon be 11 years. Some­thing that trau­matic, it’s pretty fresh in your mind for many years to come. It’s been pretty rough to have to see what this has done to her fam­ily.”

Karissa would have turned 23 on Oct. 4.

“She would have been do­ing some­thing,” said Whalen. “She was a smart lit­tle girl. She wanted to grow up and be a vet­eri­nar­ian. She loved an­i­mals. That’s why we started do­ing pet food drives in her hon­our over the years and made dona­tions to lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ters in her hon­our.”

Whalen said the fam­ily has al­ways tried to keep a pos­i­tive fo­cus on Karissa.

“We didn’t want to fo­cus on what hap­pened to her, but now this has come up so the fo­cus is more on the neg­a­tiv­ity of the whole thing,” she said. “It’s not a pretty thing to have to re­visit.”

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