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Author Topic: Taber school shooting convict escapes halfway house
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 16 August 2005 12:22 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This guy escaped from a halfway house right near where I live.

The reason I thought this was interesting is because I used to live right at Dovercourt and Bloor (I live a short walk away from there now that I've moved), and I had no idea there was a halfway house in the neighbourhood, much less right next door to me, practically.

I actually have no problem with halfway houses in the community, and the more vibrant and viable the community (and I think the neighbourhood I live in right now meets that description), the better the location. So I'm kind of bracing myself for the community reaction to this, which is already in evidence from the quote in the article from a resident of the area, whining about how she thinks there should be some way to keep track of people in halfway houses.

Well, see, the thing is, most people in halfway houses make a smooth transition into the community. That's the point of halfway houses - to give a little bit of freedom at a time so that the person gets used to it and can integrate into society again. So depending on their parole conditions, they can generally spend the day outside (within certain boundaries - usually the Metropolitan Toronto area, I think) so that they can find employment, and then they have to be back to the halfway house by curfew which is usually 10 or 11 p.m. They are subject to random urine tests to make sure they're not taking drugs, and if they're even one minute late from curfew, that's grounds to send them back to jail again for non-compliance.

This is the best way we have for releasing convicts back into society. It's better than keeping them in a cell until their release date and then having them walk out, unsupervised and without having any chance to get their bearings.

But I know this is going to get the usual knee-jerk reactions from lots of people in our community. A pity, really. Because our neighbourhood is actually a pretty great place, and the halfway house, whose presence I didn't even notice, hasn't diminished that in the least in my opinion.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 16 August 2005 12:26 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
P.S. I put this in "news" instead of the regional forum that includes Ontario because I figured that since this guy made national headlines when he was convicted, that it would be a story of general interest.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 16 August 2005 12:28 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not specifically against halfway houses, but I don't think it's extreme or knee-jerk to wonder what the criteria are for admission to one. Clearly this guy wasn't ready for it. Did he get admitted to the halfway house because he was mature enough to handle it, in the opinion of a professional, or did he get admission because nobody knew what else to do with him?

quote:
A note, found in Smith’s room after he left the facility, read: "I can't be caged anymore. If they find me, they'll have to kill me. I will never be caged again. Bye. Sorry."

I kind of found this funny, or odd if you prefer. First of all, he's not in a cage. As Michelle noted, he was free to travel Toronto, get a job, etc., etc.

Considering he murdered someone in cold blood, and only spent a few years in a juvenile facility for it, I'd say he got off pretty lightly. Reading his note he makes it sound like he's on year 20 of the bread-and-water diet at Leavenworth.

I'm willing to bet that at no time was his facility anything even remotely like a cage, unless chain-link fence is a cage now.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 16 August 2005 12:39 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, I can agree with you on this one, Magoo. Halfway houses are restrictive, but nowhere near as restrictive as jail. Not only that, but they are also relatively comfortable too, if Keele Centre is any indication - you have a roommate in a room that looks like a normal bedroom, and a communal area for watching television, and depending on your restrictions, you can be outside all day long if you want to be.

So no, I'm not saying that this guy had a legitimate beef. I was more concerned with the reaction of the residents that they quoted in the article - it kind of shows an ignorance of what halfway houses are supposed to do. The point of a halfway house is to actually let the person go out during the day and then come back at night.

I am going to bet that this guy only had a certain number of years to his sentence, and that the reason they put him in the halfway house is because they knew that it was either that or just release him without restrictions at the end of his sentence. When you're on parole before your release date, they can supervise you, but when you're released, you've done your time and that's that.

Basically, what you're looking at is the fact that eventually everyone who isn't in prison for life (and we don't put children in prison for life, even for murder) is going to be released sometime. Someday they are going to be walking in the community without handcuffs and a guard beside them. The halfway house is there to supervise that.

And actually, you can look at it this way as well: the halfway house is actually a really GOOD thing, even in this case. It tests people's ability to function in society under close supervision. In this case, we found out within hours that this guy was just not going to be able to cope.

Would we have found that out had he just served his time to the end of his sentence and then been released completely, with no supervision at all? No.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 16 August 2005 12:49 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm curious to see how it plays out when they catch him (assuming he doesn't get his wish). Do they return him to prison and is there a sentence for him to finish out? Or will he be charged with some triviality and basically sentenced to "supervision" again? Now that it's clear he won't participate, what gets done?

And with regard to young people and sentencing, I have to wonder why it is that we don't make their release contingent on measurable progress? It seems like the closer you are to 18 when caught, the less time you have to serve. As though you're magically rehabilitated on your birthday!

Could we not build in a few safeguards when sentencing minors? For example, sentence someone like this to juvenile supervision until 18, then halfway house release only if he's actually rehabilitating and not just because he turned 18 and now he shifts to a different legal framework?


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
James
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5341

posted 16 August 2005 01:28 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Do they return him to prison and is there a sentence for him to finish out? Or will he be charged with some triviality and basically sentenced to "supervision" again?

I'd doubt that htere is much of the 3 yr. sentence left to "finish", though I don't recall just when he was sentenced. "escape lawful custody - be unlawfully at large" (all he could be charged with in these circumstances) I wouldn't call a "triviality" but carries a maximum 2 year sentence. The much more serious "prison break" offence carries a maximum ten. You can be pretty sure that with a record of 1st degree murder, the apparent psychiatric conditions, etc., protection of the public will be the primary consideration on sentencing, and he will get close to the maximum.

As an aside, I sure don't envy the cops hunting a self-declared "suicide-by-police" candidate.


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 16 August 2005 01:48 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'd doubt that htere is much of the 3 yr. sentence left to "finish", though I don't recall just when he was sentenced.

That's the part I find bizarre. Why would any cold-blooded murderer, of any age, receive a three year sentence? Is the Crown really naive enough to assume that three years is plenty of time for genuine rehabilitation?

I'd rather see a ten year sentence, with leniency around parole. At least that way when someone like this is re-arrested, they can be promptly returned to prison to finish out their time. Like a suspended sentence I guess.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tulsamai Downey
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posted 16 August 2005 01:57 PM      Profile for Tulsamai Downey        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
terible news!
From: America! | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
James
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5341

posted 16 August 2005 01:57 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
IIRC, his was one of the cases that prompted toughening amendments to the old Young Offenders Act, and it's subsequent replacement with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
scooter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5548

posted 17 August 2005 12:03 PM      Profile for scooter     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He has been captured. Nothing to see here folks, lets move on.
From: High River | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Big Willy
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5451

posted 17 August 2005 12:08 PM      Profile for Big Willy        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There would be not storey if he actually had to serve more time in prison.
From: The West | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
scooter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5548

posted 17 August 2005 12:17 PM      Profile for scooter     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Big Willy:
There would be not storey if he actually had to serve more time in prison.

Huh? He has, the courts had already extended his sentence for as long as possible under the law.


From: High River | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 17 August 2005 01:35 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So I wonder what happened to "you'll never take me alive! I shall never again be caged!!"?

Looks like he will indeed be caged. I wonder if he'll notice any difference between the relative freedom of a halfway house and his new cage?


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Maritimesea
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Babbler # 8953

posted 18 August 2005 03:13 AM      Profile for Maritimesea     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
His future at this point doesn't look bright. I don't believe he should have been sent to prison, even a youth prison. Someone who murders someone based on a fascination with the Colombine incident has problems that can't be solved in a correctional facility. He was fourteen at the time, he should have been committed to a psychiatric institution. He was already free, the "caged" comment makes no sense unless he's institutionalized and wants to go back.
From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged

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