WINNIPEG – Prison officials often ignored or misread an offender’s history of family violence when they let the criminal out on parole, an independent report obtained by CBC News shows.
The report, prepared for the National Parole Board by Simon Fraser University Prof. Stephen Hart, examined the cases of 10 criminals who re-offended while on parole.
here was a lack of recognition on the part of everybody in the system that family violence was actually a substantial risk,” Hart said.
There were 481 murders by people on parole between 1975 and 2002.
There was a failure to recognize “lethal signs” that violence might follow the release, the report said.
It also found that there was no safety counseling offered to people in the community, such as an ex-spouse, who might become victims.
“It might be that victims were not informed of the release of an offender from prison, someone who previously victimized them,” Hart said.
The report also found that new information was not always shared by police and parole officials once an offender was released.
The report drew outrage from former MP Jim Hart (unrelated to Stephen Hart), who has fought for years for tougher parole.
“In a nutshell, this report says our current parole system kills innocent Canadians,” he said.
Darlene Rempel, executive director of the Manitoba Organization of Victim Advocates, said she was surprised by the report.
“I didn’t realize there were so many things that were wrong in the system.”
The Parole Board said it is working on changes, a spokesperson said.