Paul Bernardo can be safely handled in medium-security prison, insists Corrections Canada

Commissioner Anne Kelly says Corrections is looking at its procedures on how victim’s families are notified of transfers

Article content

OTTAWA — The commissioner of Corrections Canada insisted to MPs Monday that Paul Bernardo can be safely held in a medium-security prison.

Anne Kelly testified to MPs on the House of Commons Public Safety Committee, who are studying Bernardo’s reclassification from maximum security to medium security earlier this year. Bernardo is serving a life sentence and has been designated as a dangerous offender for the murders of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Kelly said the decision to transfer Bernardo came after an extensive review. She said Bernardo had previously applied to move to medium security 14 times, but was turned down over concerns for his safety.

French and Mahaffy families were told the morning of Bernardo’s transfer. Kelly said Corrections is looking at its procedures on how victim’s families are notified.

She said despite Bernardo’s vicious and awful history he qualified for the transfer based on the correctional system’s rules.

“You can have inmates that may lack remorse or be a psychopath, but we can still manage their behaviour in a medium security environment,” she told MPs.

Related Stories

Conservative MP Tony Baldinelli expressed outrage at the idea that Bernardo could somehow qualify to be moved.

“My question to you then: if not Paul Bernardo, then which dangerous offender, rapist, serial killer needs to be in a maximum security institution? If not Paul Bernardo, the worst of the worst, then who?” he asked Kelly.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Kelly said the medium security facility that Bernardo was transferred to has the same high walls, same guard towers, same food and same size cells, but allows Bernardo more time out of his cell with other prisoners and to take part in more programming.

She said the decision to keep someone in maximum security generally relates to their conduct inside the institution.

“It’s important to remember that in a maximum security environment over 95 per cent of the inmates that are there are there because of their behaviour. They’re assaultive, they’re harming other inmates, they’re assaulting staff. That’s not the case with this particular offender he can actually be managed in medium security,” she said.

Kelly said Bernardo is still considered a high-risk to the safety of the public, because of his crimes and the lack of remorse he has demonstrated. She said any further reduction in his security classification is unlikely.

“Paul Bernardo spent 30 consecutive years in maximum security. He was transferred to medium security, and at this point, there’s absolutely no talk of going to a lower security level,” she said.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Later this week, the House of Commons is set to debate a Conservative private member’s bill that would prevent anyone convicted of first-degree murder more than once, or someone classified as a dangerous offender from being moved.

Kelly was asked by MPs about the bill and she said it would create major issues for Corrections Canada. She said the agency always ensures people who cannot safely be moved out of maximum security stay there.

“We might need more space at maximum security and also, at this point, there’s no incentive for offenders to participate in rehabilitation programs, in terms of maintaining good behaviour,” she said. “The fact is that, you know, we have security classification, we have processes, but there are inmates that will never make their way to minimum security.”

Twitter: RyanTumilty
Email: [email protected]

Our website is the place for the latest breaking news, exclusive scoops, longreads and provocative commentary. Please bookmark and sign up for our politics newsletter, First Reading, here.

Article content

  1. This Just In: YSL All Hours Precise Angles Concealer, Rabanne Fame Parfum, and Burt’s Bees Hand Cream Trio

    Three new, buzzed-about beauty products we tried this week.

    YSL All Hours Precise Angles Concealer.
  2. Best Cyber Monday deals on Amazon 2023

    Top deals on tech, home, fashion, beauty and more

    Top Cyber Monday deals on Amazon.
  3. Advertisement 2

  4. Best Cyber Monday deals in Canada 2023

    Top deals in tech, fashion, kitchen home and so much more

    Top Cyber Monday deals curated by the Shopping Essentials team.
  5. Best Black Friday deals on Amazon Canada 2023

    Top deals on tech, home, beauty and more

    Top Black Friday deals on Amazon.
  6. Best Black Friday deals in Canada 2023

    Top Black Friday deals in fashion, wellness, tech, kitchen, home, toys and more

    Top Black Friday deals in Canada.