Most Dangerous Offenders in Canada Predominantly Housed in Medium to Minimum Security Facilities

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Over 700 individuals recognized as the most dangerous offenders in Canada are predominantly accommodated within medium- and minimum-security prisons, as per federal statistics. This information emerged in Parliament as a reply to an inquiry submitted by Frank Caputo, a Conservative member of Parliament hailing from British Columbia.

These perceptive figures highlight that during the financial year of 2022 – 2023, out of the dangerous offenders in the correctional service’s custody, 580 were categorized as requiring medium-security accommodation, and just 99 bore a maximum-security classification. It was also revealed that 57 offenders had been classified with a minimum-security level.

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This statistical revelation surfaced following media reports of Paul Bernardo, a serial killer and rapist of national notoriety. He was shifted to a medium-security prison in Quebec from a maximum-security facility at Millhaven Institution in Ontario. Bernardo’s transfer prompted significant public outrage, compelling the Correctional Service of Canada to review its decision. This scrutiny concluded that relevant protocols were adhered to in effectuating Bernardo’s transfer, who is under an open-ended life conviction after being adjudged a dangerous offender for committing multiple violent crimes.

Anne Kelly, the prison system commissioner, affirmed that Bernardo doesn’t represent a threat to public safety and the conditions of medium security are akin to those in maximum security, without any added luxury. The investigation further unveiled that Bernardo, incarcerated since the mid-1990s, had met criteria for medium-security classification for years. However, he continued to be withheld in maximum-security, as he hadn’t fully assimilated with other inmates. This status quo disrupted earlier this year when prison authorities felt it appropriate to transfer him post successful integration with other offenders.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has urged the Liberal government to intervene, insisting Bernardo and similar dangerous offenders serve their entire sentences in maximum-security prisons. Poilievre is advocating for a private member’s bill advanced by Tony Baldinelli, a Tory MP belonging to the region where Bernardo committed his heinous crimes. The bill posits that any inmate declared as a dangerous offender under the Criminal Code or proven guilty of more than one first-degree murder should be marked as maximum-security and serve their sentence in correspondingly labeled prisons.

Nonetheless, the Liberals have resisted any interference, arguing that the operational decisions regarding the jail system are autonomous from governmental influence and any incursion could be perilous.