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Killer sneaks by parole board

Article by: By KATHLEEN HARRIS, NATIONAL BUREAU
OTTAWA — – OTTAWA — The mother of a teenaged son who was brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat is outraged the killer has bypassed the parole system and won a day-pass program from the prison’s warden.
Rosalie Turcotte was shocked to receive a call from the Correctional Service of Canada this week advising her Zachary Finley was granted a temporary absence program for “personal development.” Now an inmate at the Montee Saint-Francois Institution in Laval, Que., he has withdrawn his application to go before the National Parole Board 11 times and is now scheduled for a hearing in 2009.
“The reason he obviously did that is because he’s starting a program of release into the community instead of going to the National Parole Board where he’s probably not going to succeed,” Turcotte said in an interview from her home in British Columbia.
‘GRAVE CONCERNS’
Heidi Illingworth, executive director of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, has written letters of protest to the prison’s warden and the federal victims’ ombudsman expressing “grave concerns” with the policy.
She is urging the federal government to withdraw granting authority from wardens, which would require a change to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
“It is contradictory to public safety that an institutional head can allow an escorted temporary absence to a lifer who has never faced the thorough questioning of the National Parole Board or who might never be granted full parole into the community by the board,” she said.
Illingworth noted that Finley, who was charged with first-degree murder and convicted of second-degree murder in the 1991 death of Ken Turcotte, has a “deplorable” and violent record behind bars.
Last year, Correctional Service of Canada granted 566 escorted absences and 21 unescorted absences to “lifers,” who can get day passes within three years of their parole eligibility date.