Article by: By MICHAEL PLATT
Calgary – No relief from grief when life sentences are cut short
By MICHAEL PLATT
Blue skies and a balmy breeze.
It’s the kind of weather Calgarians can usually take for granted on a mid-August Tuesday — unless of course, you’re supposed to be in jail for viciously stabbing your ex-girlfriend to death.
But then, taking an innocent life and ceasing to enjoy your own have never been mutually inclusive under Canada’s soft-touch sentencing system.
Luckily for Jerime Gordon Mallette, he chose a beautiful day for a jaunt away from his jail cell, less than a decade after landing himself inside on a second-degree murder conviction.
In Canada, stalking and slaying your 21-year-old ex-girlfriend can be exchanged for a mere eight years behind bars, and a looming parole date is likely key to Mallette’s time on the outside yesterday.
Mallette, an abusive ne’er-do-well who in 2000 pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend, Brooke Clapson, is eligible for parole this year — it’s the way life sentences work in Canada.
Yesterday, with the approval of jail wardens, Mallette was given leave to enjoy an escorted pass away from Bowden prison north of Calgary, with two corrections officers at his side.
Privacy rules protecting the killer’s rights mean where Mallette went can’t be made public, and the reason for the release, be it personal, medical or otherwise, can’t be revealed.
“They only told me he’d be out on an escorted day pass — they won’t say why, they won’t say where, and they won’t say for how long,” said Donna Eaton, the murder victim’s mother, who was informed of the day pass by Corrections Canada.
That Mallette’s day away from jail is a foot in the door of freedom seems obvious — convicts in his position tend to move from escorted absence to day parole and full release with remarkable speed.
For Eaton, the impending release of her daughter’s killer so soon after her death is unfathomable.
“Being out for the day is the breaking of the seal,” she said.
“This is the beginning of our nightmare — it’s starting all over again.”
In the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2000, police found Clapson dead inside a Rocky Mountain House hotel room, the victim of multiple stab wounds.
The bright-eyed brunette was working north of Calgary as a flagger on a road crew, scrimping her earnings towards a trip to Europe, when her 23-year-old ex-boyfriend ended her life.
In the end, it was only Clapson’s ashes that made the trip overseas, scattered by her mom, sister and friend.
And now, the jealous boyfriend who sent his ex to an early grave may soon be walking the streets of Calgary, his hometown, as a free man.
Eaton says the “life sentence” that will likely end before a decade has even past is a scab torn open.
“It may have been eight years ago, but with this, it suddenly seems like eight minutes ago,” she said.
“It takes you right back to the grieving process and any healing we’ve managed, it’s totally blown.
“I feel disconnected and confused — I’m crying all over again.”
Federal government statistics showing only about 13% of violent criminals reoffend once released are of cold comfort to the relatives of murder victims, and Eaton said having the killer anywhere but behind bars is a frightening prospect.
“He’s murdered another human being in cold blood and he will do it again — it’s in his nature, and his desire to control others,” she said.
Eaton mocks the federal government’s newly announced plan to clamp electronic monitoring bracelets on high-risk federal offenders, saying such a system is false security.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced the one-year pilot program earlier this week, which will see GPS monitoring bracelets attached to sex predators and violent criminals released on parole.
“Why don’t they focus instead on keeping these people behind bars? Couldn’t the money be spent on that instead of trying to keep track of them on the outside?” said Eaton.
“Him being in jail is the only thing that makes me comfortable.”