Wardens Have Power

01 Mar, 2013

Granting Inmates Temporary Absences and Work Releases

Prison wardens can effectively thwart the will of the Parole Board of Canada— and one of them appears to have done so in the case of a woman who killed a Toronto police officer.

The sweeping powers were quietly granted to wardens last year under a littleknown “Commissioner’s Directive,” which enlarged upon existing authority in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Elaine Ross Cece is one of two women who were convicted of second-degree murder in the fall of 1999 for slaying Det. Const. William (Billy) Hancox. It was in June 2010 that Cece applied for ‘Escorted Temporary Absence (ETA)’, at the Parole Board of Canada. As a result, the Board decided Cece lacked insight into the crime and minimized the violence she had inflicted.

Coupled with her mixed response to prison programs and ‘issues with drugs and alcohol abuse’, the Board ruled she wasn’t ready.

But in December 2011, Carol-Ann Reynen, the Warden at Fraser Valley Institution for Women in BC, granted Cece the very passes the Parole Board had refused her, apparently with authority broadly granted under the CCRA, which speaks only vaguely about temporary absences.

Warden’s decisions, unlike those of the Parole Board, aren’t made in public, though the victim’s family are notified if they ask to be.

This, Jean-Paul Lorieau, a spokesman for the Pacific region of the Correctional Service of Canada, is all authorized under the Commissioner’s Directive on Temporary Absences 710-3 of June 13 last year.

The directive gives wardens the power to grant inmates temporary absences and work releases as long as they are within 3 years of full parole eligibility.

In practice, what it means is that temporary absences, originally meant to allow inmates to attend funerals or get medical treatment unavailable in prison to leave the institution for short periods of time, have become a way around the parole system itself.

And, as discretionary powers granted to wardens, they are without oversight or any meaningful review.

Conservative MP, Corneliu Chisu, has prepared a private member’s bill to change the legislation, but it has yet to be given a number.

Source: The Montreal Gazette


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