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August 17, 2004

Firing Failed Probation Officers; Criminal Privacy; "Life in Prison" Sentences

The August 11 National Post reports in "Four Probation Workers Fired After Six Murdered" that after Troy Victorino failed to be arrested for probation violations twice just before he murdered six people, Governor Jeb Bush actually punished those responsible. Those fired were probation officer Richard Burrow, his supervisor, Paul Hayes; the circuit administrator, Robert Gordon; and of the three Florida state regional directors, Joe Hatem. Burrow and Hayes are protected by the "career service" process and can appeal their firings; I guess the other two are political appointees.

This is truly amazing, because the usual pattern in government is for gross incompetence to be punished by, at most, slower promotion. It says good things about Florida.

In contrast is a recent story from Canada that I have mislaid, about a murderer who walked away from the halfway house where he was living and then robbed and killed someone.

The authorities did not even announce that he had left, and even after the murder they explained that to release news of he criminal's escape to the community would have violated his privacy.

Yet another story is from the August 5 Vancouver Sun. A man who committed a brutal murder in 198 in British Columbia, stabbing a woman 99 times and almost cutting her head off, is up for release on parole. His sentence was to "life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years". Those 25 years expire in 2008, at which time a parole board can release him.

What is interesting, though, is that even now he can get out of prison-- and without a parole board hearing. After December 11, 2005, "escorted passes will up to the discretion of the prison warden. No parole board hearing will be necessary." He will also be eligible for "unescorted temporary absences" if the National Parole Board agrees. And even now, in 2004, he is eligible for "escorted passes" if the National Parole Board agrees. This is in the news because that board just had a hearing on him, in which 28 of his supporters, including "prison psychiatric experts" have testified. He apparently now is openly homosexual and has HIV and hepatitis. It wasn't clear whether these things were being disclosed by his supporters or his opponents.

The lesson: "life in prison without parole" means "stay in prison until the parole board feels like letting you out". The death penalty is the only sure way to guarantee that someone is punished for longer than the public eye is on the case.

Posted by erasmuse at August 17, 2004 11:14 PM

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