I survived the first anniversary of Thomas’s death. That was yesterday. I didn’t feel like doing much, so I didn’t.
I work with the best people in the world. One, the counsellor I’m temporarily replacing while she’s on maternity leave (we get a year for that in Canada), mailed me a lovely card and gift cards for dinner and a movie. Expensive, definitely. I certainly didn’t expect anything other than a few days off work that I’d already booked off. This was…touching. My boss then arranged for a fruit arrangement. It came today, which was nice because I’ve been remiss about groceries and don’t have much of an appetite that doesn’t involve cheap, soft white bread and no-name baloney. I crave it, I haven’t gotten it. Though I’m seriously thinking about it.
I was going to go to Scrapbook Studio, they have a crop night there tonight. However, the weather is cold and the entire province (and also Manitoba) is currently under a windchill warning. They’re expecting those values to reach down into the -40s. That doesn’t make me want to go out, though the idea of cheap, soft white bread and baloney might override that. Like I said, it’s a craving.
I should clean off my desk. That would help motivate me to try out some of the ideas for stamping that I’ve gotten over the past week. My friend (who drew me into the dark side, known as “yet another hobby” or scrapbooking) loaned me some magazines to look at. They’ve given me inspiration. Now it’s my job to take that inspiration and actually do something with it.
I’ve started looking at the blogs I used to read. I used to read a lot of them. Many of the people who wrote regularly now haven’t updated for months, if not years. I shall be going through my blog list and delete all the ones I don’t go to anymore (most of them hosted by Cheeze Burger and the like). I don’t have the interest anymore. I’ll keep Thomas’s because it’s nice to go back and look at what he wrote. I’ll also keep the ones that still update (because I enjoy reading them) that include Dooce and Pioneer Woman, as well as the friends who still update their blogs. That’s for another day, though, when I do a general bookmark edit marathon.
After the counsellor gets back to work in August, I think I’ll take a week or two in September to do some general cleaning out of stuff. I have way too much of it and don’t know what to do with the majority. I have a tool kit of stuff that I’ll never use. How do I know? Most of them are made large and for mechanical repair. I only need a small basic tool kit. I have two rechargable drills (one small for small jobs, the other larger, for larger jobs) that also have screw driver bits. I need only a few wrenches and pliers and my hammers. Really, that’s all I need. It’s not like I’m an engine monkey or am really handy with my hands. I haven’t figured out if I’m going to get rid of the circular saw or not. I have to figure out if I can trust myself with something like that. I’ll keep the jig saw and sander as well as the hand saws.
I have camera equipment and books and other stuff that was Thomas’s that I have to go through and divvy up with friends. There’s some that I have no real interest in. Some I kept when I did the first editing of his belongings and now realize I don’t need. Funny how things are; things that seem important and necessary aren’t really that. They’re just things.
With getting rid of stuff comes along thoughts of rearranging my physical world. I want to change my set up here with my computer and hobby stuff. I want to rearrange my bedroom, mostly to make changing my bed easier than it currently is. I did something like this after Thomas died. It helped me cope with his absence. Now I want things less…cluttered. I don’t know if it’s related to Thomas’s death, but I want my life simpler. I also have a shit pile of shredding to do.
I know I shouldn’t. I know that it will probably make me ill, that I’ll definitely get diarrhea and some intestinal cramps. But I’m going to get dressed, collect Boy and go out and get some bread, baloney and commercially made soup. Comfort food when I need comfort.
Actually, I’m not, but I needed some kind of title for this post.
As you may have noticed, I posted a photo of Thomas in the previous post. It’s a photo I took a couple of years ago when he was standing over my chair and I just leaned back, focused George (my camera) and shot the photo. I processed into black and white and voila…a very good photo.
I’m somewhat shaky this week. It’s a good thing that I have lots to occupy myself with. I am busy at work with month end. In addition, I have a shit pile of crap on my desk to sort through to clean it up. I have a pile of housework that needs to be done and will probably work on it this weekend. I’ll probably make some condolence cards. I do that when I’m feeling sad, like I’m making them for myself. Card making is part of the reason I’m cleaning up my desk.
I have plans to go to Scrapbook Studio on Saturday evening. They have a crop night where people can go and use their cutting tools and dies, as well as their stamps. I figure it would be a good way to keep occupied and make something pretty.
I’ve been spending a lot of my time watching First 48 episodes on You Tube. It’s one of my favourite shows and I get to see some that I’ve missed since dumping cable a few years ago. I have considered getting cable again, or else get satellite channels, but for only one or two channels that carry some murder and mayhem, it’s hardly worth it. If we were able to get Investigation Discovery, I’d get cable in an instant. Sadly, that channel is unavailable. Sucks to be me.
Have I ever mentioned how much I like being able to pay my bills online? I do. Seriously. Recently, on Facebook, there’s a graphic of a clenched fist upraised with the following saying on it: “Introverts. Unite. Separately. In your own homes.” That’s me. I like not having to drive around town to various places in the city to pay for services. Last night I paid the power and phone bills. Tonight I paid on the credit card. The internet stuff is paid by automatic withdrawal at the beginning of next month. If I could figure out how to pay rent online I’d do that too. Sadly, my landlord banks at a different bank than my main account, so it’s not possible. I guess I have to leave the house sometimes.
Last night I was treated to a movie by a friend. She took me to see was Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It was based on the autobiography of the same title. It was quite good, quite affecting. Unfortunately, it couldn’t give the kind of detail that the book most likely does. Events of Mandela’s life were quickly gone over. All the same, it was a good film.
After the movie, I took my friend home. One the way back to the car I conducted an experiment. I pressed the remote start button when we were about 1 1/2 block from the car. It wasn’t a direct shot to the car either. It was down a block then a left turn and up a bit to where I parked it in front of work. The signal to start the car had to travel down and turn a corner. In addition, there were buildings in the way. Not just one or two, but an entire block of buildings. Lo and behold, when we turned the corner after walking the block, we saw that the car had started. Very cool. Well, warmish as the car was able to warm up a bit.
After I dropped her at home, I decided that I wanted ice cream. Yes, I know, it was -22 C at the time with added windchill, but it didn’t matter to me. I wanted a Score Blizzard from Dairy Queen. So when I got home I yelled to Boy to get dressed and come for ice cream. By coincidence, he had texted me asking for ice cream or something from Tim Hortons because he’d had a crappy day and wanted some comfort food. So off we went. While we were waiting in the drive through, we got to talking about Harold Ramis, his death and the movies he had been in. So we decided to watch Ghostbusters while eating our ice cream. I don’t know if it was a tribute, but we did enjoy the film.
I do prefer working evenings. It’s like I’m not working at all really, despite the fact that I tend to get more done. There are the usual dramas at work. Hassles between staff, hassles with residents, hassles in general, but that’s the nature of the beast. It’s the end of the month so I’m working on month end reports that I’ll file into casework records in the Offender Management System (OMS) on Thursday. I got about 1/2 done tonight. I’ll finish them up tomorrow, then on Thursday I’ll go through the log book to make sure that I got everything into the reports and enter them in. Then my part of month end will be complete.
Today would have been Thomas’s 54th birthday. To celebrate his birth, Boy took me to supper at Montana’s. It was ok. I think I might suggest Chilis for next year. After hearing poor reviews of Chilis I went several months after it opened and found, much to my pleasure, that they serve very good, very fresh food. I can even customize dishes so I don’t end up eating a pile of wheat or corn.
I don’t feel much like writing today.
It would appear, as the anniversary of Thomas’s death approaches, that I’m moving along. Last night I had a dream that involved only Boy. That’s the first one since Thomas died. Usually, if I dream of family, it involves Mom, Dad, and Thomas. I’ve had lots of dreams with the three of them. They’re all, of course, dead. I don’t know if it’s working things out, but it was oddly comforting to know that when I closed my eyes at night, they’d be there. Actually, it wasn’t last night, it was today (I went back to bed after working 3 hours for a sick support worker).
The dream involved me working for Boy’s company, phoning people to do surveys. In this dream I was to phone somewhere in Asia. By coincidence, the person who answered the phone (who had an oriental name of some sort and I can’t remember what it was) spoke nearly accentless English. Imagine that! Anyway, the survey had to do with some sort of supernatural experiences that a person might have had in their lifetime. It ended up that I took a coffee break and when I went back to my work station, I redialed this person, a man I believe, and started the survey again. Instead of typing his answers into a computer I had to write them into a blank Hilroy notebook. The questions I was to ask were on a computer screen. The print was so small I had trouble reading it and ended up asking only one question. By the magic of dreams, I could see the person I was talking to over the phone. Then, I went on another break, lunch I think, and when I returned to my workstation, just after I redialed the oriental gentleman again, a supervisor came along and stopped me working. I handed over the notebook and pen. I was relieved (which isn’t really that surprising considering how much I like talking on the phone) and said farewell to Boy and told him I’d see him when I picked him up from work later.
No deceased person made an appearance into my dream at all. Perhaps it’s me moving on. I don’t know. I do know that tomorrow would have been Thomas’s 54th birthday. Friday is the first anniversary of his death. And it’s month end. It’s going to be an interesting week. I’m taking Friday and Monday off.
I have thoughts of cleaning up my spot and making more cards again. My desk, as it currently is, cannot support any kind of work. It’s just too messy and needs to be wiped down. Then perhaps, I can do some card making.
Tonight’s supper was a delicious experiment. It’s also easily converted into a vegan recipe. I cut up and shredded a sweet potato (yam), then I cut a spaghetti squash in half, took out the seeds, sliced the squash and then peeled the crescent pieces. I spread those out on the bottom of two cake pans (because I was making for leftovers). Then I cut thinly sliced onions green peppers and mushrooms and spread that over the squash and sweet potatoes. I put chicken breasts on top of that (2 for each pan). I made a sauce of two cans of coconut milk with added coconut oil. Then I put in dill/lemon spice, curry spice, tarragon spice (all prepared stuff) and some Mrs. Dash. I squeezed the juice of one lime, about 2 teaspoons of garlic (I buy the chopped stuff because I always end up with my garlic sprouting or drying out before I get to using it), and a pile of grated ginger (also purchased presmashed). I mixed all that together and poured it over the chicken/veg making sure to cover the chicken because it was skinless. I baked everything at 400 F until the chicken was done. The veg was done but still had some crispness to it. The taste was yummylicious. To convert it to a vegan recipe skip the chicken or use tofu in its stead.
Dylyn and I didn’t get a whole pan eaten. Though we each shared a whole breast and veg, we weren’t able to eat all the veg from one pan. I just added it to the other pan, covered it with tin foil and now we have leftovers. We won’t be eating it tomorrow because Dylyn is taking us to Montana’s to celebrate Thomas’s birthday. I will take some to work on Monday for lunch. I’m glad I’m a good cook, I’m glad I cook for 4-5 people at once so there is a reliable source of leftovers when I’m working. Monday will be something to do with steak and broccoli, possibly a stir fry of some sort. I haven’t decided yet.
Here are some things I found on the internet:
Squash Crusted Asparagus Quiche
Isn’t that awesome? There are so many dishes that I’m foregoing because of my dietary requirements. I miss quiche. I love the idea of being able to make a quiche. I’d change the recipe (when don’t I?) and add parmesan cheese, sauteed garlic and some spices into the quiche to make a more savoury dish. Maybe I’ll make it tomorrow. I have a squash, I have chard, I have eggs…I don’t have cheese, but I’ll survive that absence.
Is Ted Nugent a pedophile? This writer seems to think he is.
This is somewhat scary. If, as the writer purports, Ted Nugent became the guardian of a teenager after failing to marry her, then I weep for the system that assigns guardianship. Seriously. Why would any social worker/judge do this? As to the song…that’s frightening. Now, if those things are actually true, what ever happened to the law and order agenda that most conservatives espouse? Shouldn’t they be after Ted Nugent’s gonads?
On the Banks of Squaw Creek.
This is the blog of a young wife and mother. She lives on a commercial turkey farm (they grow large turkeys for sandwich meat, like you’d find in a Subway sandwich) with her hard working husband and their two rather charming boys. I am made somewhat uncomfortable by her rather strong Christian leanings, but that’s my shit, not hers. She doesn’t write about things that could offend my delicate sensibilities. I think her heart is in the right place. Anyway, she also has a repurposing business where she takes old things, and makes them into something new. Sometimes it means refurbishing an item, sometimes it means making an entire new life. One example is gutting an old piano spinet type piano that was headed for the fire tip and making a desk out of it. She’s rather ingenious about it.
I can’t remember what I wrote about the Paleo diet and me. I have discovered that the diet has improved my digestion and when I try and incorporate the stuff I used to eat back into my diet, I get sick. So, wheat (and possibly other gluten grains), soy and soy products, all other legumes including peanut butter, green peas and beans, corn and all corn products, and a few other things, I get sick. I knew that I probably had some kind of allergy to foods, I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I knew that I’d probably react to things that I liked, and I was right…bread is my comfort food.
Last year, after Thomas died, I ate whatever I bloody pleased. This meant that I ate tofu. I ate peas and beans, and I ate bread…lots of bread. I gained weight and I felt like shit. I messed up my guts again and am still feeling the ramifications of that. However, slowly, my guts are recovering somewhat. I have a whole lot more comfortable days than ones tied to the toilet. I don’t beat myself up over it though. I needed comfort foods and bread was (and remains) a major comfort food.
I’ve got a metric tonne of recipes that I can adapt over to be allergen free for me. Things like that recipe cited at the top of the post. There are some recipes that are very simple but I never thought of doing them. One of my favourite (and has nearly always been wheat free) is coconut macaroons.
I’ve run out of energy.
Canada has very few offenders who will be in prison for their natural life span. Life sentences don’t mean that a person will be behind bars their entire life. That takes a very special designation. Yesterday I explained terminate sentences. Today I’ll cover exceptional sentences, some are terminate, some indeterminate.
Let’s go with life sentences for now. There are some basic levels of murder convictions in Canada. There is death caused in car wrecks, usually involving some sort of intoxicant. It’s not considered to be “murder” per se, despite the fact that someone died. Conviction will involve a federal sentence (over 2 years) but it is a terminate sentence. Then comes manslaughter – homicides committed where there is no intent to kill, or where the intent cannot be formulated. These involve things like deaths in bar fights, domestic violence that is carried to far, etc. The sentence for manslaughter can go as high as life, but doesn’t have to.
Actual “murder” convictions are first and second degree murders. Convictions of either of these degrees is an automatic life sentence. The difference between the two is the number of years they must serve in prison before becoming eligible for day parole. Second degree murder is a conviction where a person does an action that he or she knows might cause the death of another person but continues anyway. Generally these murders are like “heat of the moment” murders. First degree murder is that which is thought out and deliberate. Malice aforethought is the British phrase that fits here. First degree murder is also defined when someone kills a police officer in the, in a highjacking, kidnapping, or sexual assault.
As I mentioned no sentence in Canada means that a person is destined to remain in prison their entire natural life. That said, there are people who are not ever going to be released into the community until they are way too debilitated by age and infirmity to be considered a risk.
When a person is convicted and sentenced to life, they are required to spend a certain amount of time behind bars. The minimum for 2nd degree murder is 10 years to 25 years. The minimum for 1st degree murder is 25 years. That’s only when they become eligible to apply for day parole. They can be kept much longer behind bars depending on the circumstances of the offense, their behaviour while incarcerated, the programs taken, etc. Basically the same criteria as for regular sentences, but with longer time. If an offender is released for day parole, their stay in a half-way house is much longer than the bog standard offender. It’s not uncommon for someone to need 4 or 5 years on day parole to slowly acclimate and adapt to a world that has changed a lot in the time they’ve been in prison.
Think about it. Some of the people I’ve seen were sentenced in the 1970s and 1980s. They went to prison when rotary phones were still in use. Computers were huge, sometimes taking up entire rooms. There were no such things as cell phones, debit cards, and much, much more. So they get released into a an entirely new world. So they not only have to get used to the new world, they have to find employment (and they’re middle aged), save money to eventually move out, try and save for a retirement, find new friends, create some kind of social circle, try and connect with any family that may be alive, if they’re willing, and so on. That’s no easy task. However, eventually they can apply for, be supported for and get, full parole, allowing them to live in the community. The difference is that a lifer will never reach statutory release and their warrant expiry date is the day they die. They will always be supervised by a parole officer and once a month they will have to see that person until the offender dies. The offenders live with the sword over their head, always concerned about the possibility of being sent back to prison. The longer they stay out, the lower the risk of that is because they will have a settled routine (for the most part). People who are convicted of murder are at very low risk of recidivism, unlike other crimes.
There are three different special designations for offenders. First there is the much heard of “Dangerous Offender” designation, the second is Long Term Supervision Order, and the third is section 810 recognizance orders. We’ll start with the last.
Section 810 recognizance orders are special conditions placed upon a person by a judge when they are close to having their sentence complete.
The court may order an individual to comply with a section 810 recognizance orderfor a period not exceeding 24 months when there is a threat of harm to the safety of a person or the community. No convictionsor charges need to be laid for a section 810 recognizance to be ordered. Additionally, an application for a section 810 recognizance order may be made in relation to offenders who are approaching completion of a custody or community sentence, yet continue to pose a risk to reoffend. A section 810 recognizance includes court ordered conditions that must be followed, which may include reporting to aprobation officer. Failure to comply with an 810 recognizance order may result in a charge for a new offence.” (From POLICE – PAROLE HANDBOOK PACIFIC REGION 2011).
The person who has an 810 recognizance order imposed on them is supervised by the local police in their area rather than by a parole officer or probation officer. An offender you may have heard about, Karla Homalka, had an 810 imposed on her after she was released from prison as a way of trying to ameliorate the risk to the community after it was found out that she was more involved in her husband’s crime than she’d copped to prior to receiving the sweetheart deal from the prosecutors in her deal to testify against Paul Bernardo in the murder of Kristine French and Leslie Mahaffy in Ontario. Anyway, after she was released from prison and her sentence was complete, she was required to report to police regularly and follow whatever they required.
This is related somewhat to long term supervision orders. They are similar in that supervision extends beyond the end of the offender’s sentence. The difference is that and LTSO is imposed by the trial judge at sentencing (whereas the 810 follows sentencing and sometimes is imposed after WED). Another major difference is that someone with an LTSO is supervised to the end of the order by parole. This means that the person also has the support and programming of the parole system, which is actually designed for offender supervision, unlike the police. An LTSO can extend up to 10 years following the end of a sentence and is placed on an offender who has demonstrated a long history of violent behaviours. it’s a way of ensuring a person is monitored and lowering risk to the community. The LTSO offenders we see also have residency conditions imposed by the Parole Board in order to further lower the risk to the community. So, like a person on SR with residency, the LTSO offender is one who is at higher risk of reoffending.
Dangerous offender designation is determined in a separate hearing from a person’s trial. The person has to have committed a crime or crimes that are so egregious that their sentence becomes indeterminate. Clifford Olson, a serial killer whose victims were children, was designated a dangerous offender. Paul Bernardo, a serial rapist and murderer of two teenage girls, was designated a dangerous offender. One doesn’t have to murder to be declared a dangerous offender, most of those are serial sex offenders. This is, in essence a life sentence that has the potential to be a true life sentence. You can visit the Canadian site, Public Safety Canada, to find out more about this designation. As with anyone, an offender with DO status can cascade down through the security levels of an institution, apply for and receive ETAs and UTAs, and apply for and receive day or full parole. Whether they get the TAs or parole, depends entirely upon the Parole Board. Some offenders, regardless of how they behave, will never see the outside of a Max facility because they can’t be cascaded down for their own security. They will always be handled in Seg or a special handling unit (SHU) because putting them in the general population would mean their death. These people will not see the community in any meaningful way until they are too old and too infirm for it to make any difference to them.
Of interest, only one woman has been declared a dangerous offender. She successfully fought to have it removed because the crimes she committed were all committed in the institution. Sadly, she killed her self not long after the designation was removed. The government is trying to get another woman designated as such. We’ll see how that works out.
So there you have it. The very long term sentences in Canada.
I can’t remember if I ever explained the Canadian justice system. Well, what I know of it, that is. So here you get a quick, basic lesson.
First, criminal law is under federal jurisdiction. The provinces can do things like set speed limits, legislate what the level of intoxication is allowable (0.08 seems to be quite popular), and some other things, actual criminal law is set under federal statute. So, unlike the USA where there is a set division between state and federal criminal law, it’s the same across the whole country up here.
There are two kinds of offenses: summary and indictable. Summary offenses are considered to be less serious offenses. They might merit some jail time, but just as often you might get a community supervision order (aka probation), a fine, or community service. Fines can be paid in cash or a person can do fine options – generally working a set number of hours depending on the fine amount, for a non-profit in the community. Win/win because the person fined doesn’t have to pay out cash, and a non-profit gets a volunteer who lends their expertise. Fine option can be a problem for single moms because they generally cannot afford the sitter nor the fine.
An indictable offense is generally of the more serious variety. Those crimes are things like trafficking, break and enter, robbery, the various grades of assaults, sexual assault, manslaughter and murder.
Some offenses can be either summary or indictable, depending on the seriousness. For instance, theft (like shoplifting) can be summary, but if the item(s) stolen go over a certain sum, it might become indictable. The same is true for assault.
All criminal offenses are first taken to the Provincial Court. The serious crimes are taken to Court of Queens Bench, the federal court. Those tend to be crimes where a jury is frequently impaneled, such as murder, serious assaults, large scale trafficking. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first court appearance is generally a session to see if the Crown has enough evidence to warrant the charges in the first place. Sometimes the preliminary hearing is waived by the defense to simplify things. Sometimes not. Anyway, it is here where a judge will tell the Crown to fuck off and get more evidence (not in those words of course) or decides that there is enough compelling evidence to go to trial. If the defendant pleads guilty then the judge will set a date for sentencing. This allows the judge time to read over all the various reports and such before deciding what sentence to impose. If the defendant pleads not guilty, then the judge decides where the trial will be based. Most trials are done in provincial court, but like I said, the serious shit goes down in the Court of Queens Bench. I’m going to deal only with federal length sentences, since they’re what I’m most familiar with.
Let’s say the defendant is convicted of his/her crime (I’ll use he because it’s mostly men who populate the courts). Here’s where the difference in where an offender is housed comes in. If he is sentenced to 2 years less a day, he’ll be sent to a provincial correctional centre. If he gets 2 years or more, he is sent to a federal penitentiary. Canada doesn’t have many mandatory sentencing laws and off-hand I can only think of two – first and second degree murder. Second degree murder requires that a person serve a minimum of 10 years before they become eligible for day parole. First degree murder requires that a person serve a minimum of 25 years before they become eligible for day parole. There was once a “faint hope clause” that allowed offenders to apply for earlier release than the minimum times, but that was repealed some time ago. I’ll get back to the long term sentences in a bit.
A terminate sentence (not life) is divided into thirds. The first third is required time in the penitentiary. The second third is when an offender can apply for day or full parole. The final third is statutory release. For the Parole Board of Canada to keep someone in prison after their SR date, they have to have convincing reasons as to why they are further confining this person. This could mean the person’s behaviour in prison was bad and the safety of the community could not be assured, the person has made no progress toward change (as sometimes happens with sexual predators) or their history of successful releases is really bad (people held past SR nearly always have a considerable criminal history).
So, let’s pretend that a man did a home invasion and assaulted a resident. The assault caused fairly serious harm to the resident and a weapon (let’s say a small bat) was involved in the assault. This person received a sentence of 4 years 6 months. Now, that sentence will be divided into three blocks. The first block will be served in the penitentiary. All prisoners go through an intake process where their crime, if they’re gang members, their attitude, their criminal history, their psychological/psychiatric needs and a few other things are assessed and they’re assigned a security level. Anyone assessed at medium or higher are all housed in the penitentiary. If they are assessed as minimum, they go to an attached minimum security facility or a healing lodge (I’ll talk about these in a later post). That’s pretty standard regardless of the country one lives in.
Let’s go back to our fictional offender, we’ll call him George (because that’s what I name nearly everything). Now George will spend the first third of his sentence in prison. We’ll say that George had a little trouble adjusting to life in prison. He’d done some short provincial stints for drinking and fighting, or assaulting his common-law spouse, but he’d never been in a penitentiary. HIs security level was set at medium. George was having trouble quitting smoking and the nicotine gum given to him just wasn’t cutting it. he was found with tobacco in his cell, and then when he was being cuffed to go to Seg (where many of those go who are accused of relatively major infractions) he kicked up a bit of a fuss and punched a CX (guard). After he pleaded guilty to that and spent some time in Seg his security level remained at medium. George settled in and decided he didn’t like the place enough to want to return and decided to take advantage of the programs available. George took programs to address his issues around sobriety and his use of violence. He participated in AA meetings and chose to also participate in Aboriginal programs by consulting with an Elder, attending sweats and daily smudges. Because of his personal progress, his security was lowered to minimum and he was moved to the minimum security facility. Again, he decided to continue with his educational upgrading and worked with his Case Management Team to create a workable relapse prevention plan and began to create a community release plan.
Now George comes to his first date of eligibility for parole. He applies to the Parole Board of Canada for day parole and full parole. The Parole Board will meet with George and talk about his offense, the progress and changes he’s made. This is where the Parole Board will decide if he should be granted full parole, which would release him straight into the community, or day parole, which would require that he live at a half-way house as a way of cascading him into the community. This time the Board feels that he needs to demonstrate further stability and denies both but encourages George to apply for escorted temporary absences (ETAs) and unescorted temporary absences (UTAs) so he can “get his feet wet” so to speak and demonstrate that he has a handle on his sobriety and get used to being in the community in a more controlled way. They then set 6 months later as the next hearing for George’s parole.
Six months, and several ETAs and UTAs later, the Parole Board again meets with George to decide if he’s ready for day or full parole.He has applied for, and received acceptance from both of Saskatoon’s half-way houses. They decide that George needs some time to stabilize in the community before getting full parole, so they grant him day parole. George decides that he wants to stay at Naomi’s half-way house because that house is considered “Aboriginal friendly”. So he moves out of the prison and moves to Naomi’s Community Residential Facility (CRF).
Now, the term of day parole is set for 6 months. After the 6 months are up (well, technically before) but that’s the limit of the certificates he receives) George will either receive full parole and move out into the community or else his parole will be continued (another 6 months or until Statutory Release, which ever is sooner). George quickly gets a job and works regularly, he saves money, he attends community programming at Saskatoon Parole and goes to AA meetings and community cultural events like sweats. After one day parole continued (1 year at the Naomi’s CRF) George he goes to his PO and asks if he can get support for applying for full parole. George has an apartment he rents and has taken weekend passes to. So his cascading into the community is nearly complete. His PO agrees. The Parole Board meets with George, they see the changes he’s made, the progress he’s made, they’re assured that he’s internalized his changes enough that another criminal offense is unlikely and they grant full parole. Voila. Two days later George moves out of Naomi’s and into the community to live a long and happy life.
However, some residents don’t get full parole. They stay until their SR date and then move into the community. Frequently those offenders have had issues around employment (unemployed, difficulty getting a job, or the job pays little), have had issues with programming or have not made adequate progress that their PO makes it clear to the resident that they’re not going to be supported for full parole. At SR, the resident moves into the community.
For offenders held in prison until their SR date, they are either moved into the community without cascade time, or the Parole Board will impose a residency condition. This means that they are required to stay at a CRF or CCC until they have the residency condition lifted off their parole, or until their warrant expiry date (WED). I’ve only seen the residency condition lifted once in the 5.5 years I’ve worked at the half-way house. This means that the Parole Board can’t justify continuing to imprison someone past their SR date, but do not feel that the community will be safe without some structure in place.
So there you have it, the Canadian justice system is divvied up and what how the federal system works. Next post will be about those serving life sentences, dangerous offenders (DO), long term supervision orders (LTSO) and Section 810 Recognizance Orders. If I can manage to keep this all somewhat coherent it should give a fairly good overview.
The boss will be back to work on Tuesday and he’s taking on-call on Monday. I’m quite looking forward to him coming back and being the one responsible for the building and the well-being of all the residents. I have enough issues with the staff. He arrives back into town tomorrow sometime.
It’s nearly a year since Thomas died. I’m going to take the extra days on February 28 and on March 3. I feel like I need to mark the anniversary somehow. I don’t know how I’m going to try doing it, but it’s important to me to do something.
To be honest, I’m at a loss of what to type. I don’t do much. I go to work. I come home. I cook for Boy and myself. I go to bed. Oh, I play on Facebook, do online jigsaw puzzles and computer crosswords. Really, that’s my life, broken only by shopping for groceries, getting gas and taking Boy out for sushi once a month.In order to combat that, I’m going to teach you a little bit about my job.
Since starting the job as counsellor when the previous counsellor went on maternity leave, I have been reviewing some offenders for residency at the half-way house. It’s a whole lot harder than you might think. I have reviewed a couple of people doing life for murder, sexual assaults (which have included kidnapping and forcible confinement added in) a dangerous offender, people who have burned down houses, and a whole lot of general assaults (domestic and otherwise), several who were nabbed for dealing and a couple of gang members. If they have proven themselves to be able to control themselves, don’t have very recent institutional charges, have cascaded down, or can make a case as to why we should accept them from Max/Seg, they might make it into the Centre. In order to assess them, I have to read through their files from the Criminal Profile, their psych assessments, reports on the programs they’ve done (if any), etc. I also track how many and how often they might end up in Max Seg, why they were there and when the last institutional charges were. It’s really interesting though somewhat time consuming.
I don’t have final say. That’s the job of the Executive Director. He has to weigh all the information he gets on particular offenders with the current residents and their needs, as well as the safety of the staff. I don’t envy him that job. That said, most of those that I’ve read over I had no issue with coming. They’ve done piles of institutional programming, they are almost always coming to us from a Healing Lodge (usually minimum security), or one of the minimum security places across the prairies. Many of them have done escorted temporary absences (ETAs) and some had unescorted temporary absences (UTAs) into the community for things like church services, sweats at an Elder’s place on an attached reserve (to the Healing Lodges), AA meetings in town or work placements. These are men and women who are living without bars and fences.
The harder decisions are those who may be living in a minimum institution or Healing Lodge, but have crimes that might well cause major issues. It might be someone who’s crime was predatory in nature, such as committing kidnap and sexual assaults of women or children unknown or barely known to them. This would be especially true if there are multiple offenses of the same nature, even if they’re years apart. Yeah. If their parole is supported by their case management team (CMT) then they have to find somewhere else, usually a dedicated female community residential facility (CRF) or a Community Correctional Centre (CCC) which are run by Correctional Services of Canada. The CCC is staffed with men and women who have the same training as guards (CXs) in the prisons. We don’t have that and I hope to heaven we never need it.
Another reason to turn someone down would be if they not only have active gang affiliation, but that they have committed fairly recent assaults on other inmates and correctional staff. This has to be within 6 months of our considering them. I mean, there are some people who have lots of institutional charges heaped in their records that we’ve accepted, because they stopped assaulting people and began working on their own shit through programs and self-discipline. There really needs to be some demonstration that they’re not going to go nuts on us. The good thing about most of the gang members that we have taken is that they’re not willing to “shit in their own kennel” so to speak. They’re not going to bring their business into the CRF because if they do, they know the entire gang will be refused in the future, and that means being shipped to Regina when their homies get released on parole. For the most part, they behave and are fairly easy to work with. They want to make sure that they’re able to be in Saskatoon. Regina’s gangs aren’t exactly friendly to some of Saskatoon’s gangs. It’s safer here. Their families are here. Their homies are here. Their business is here.
Like I said, most are easy to choose. They want to get out of the system and are working on themselves to ensure that they are able to have, not only the personal tools to help themselves, but also to build the community supports. Most of the people we have are employed, stay sober and work at reconnecting with their family. We have had some attend school (high school upgrading, professional college and university). Each one has their own history and their own personal challenges to face. I’m there as a sign post, a companion, and support…in some ways a rung on their life ladder.
There you have it. That’s how the decisions are made. Bored yet?
I spent most of today, was I do everyday of late, on the computer. The difference is that today I spent time doing dishes. The countertop dishwasher we bought a few years ago finally died. It wouldn’t clean the dishes. It’s possible that it’s fixable, whatever is wrong with it, but I’m not patient enough for it. So I did some dishes by hand. I am by no means caught up, but hey. Some is better than none, right? I just wish our sink was large enough to soak the larger pans and pots efficiently. Anyway, today I moved the dishwasher off the counter and stored it under the microwave. The dishwasher will go to the Got Trash people along with the recliner that’s broken and the couch that needs to be replaced.
I’m planning on the editing of our household stuff in the spring. If I manage to get enough money from the truck and income tax, I’m going to see about getting a new couch and chair set, perhaps with a hide-a-bed in the couch and rearrange the living room. I also want to get rid of various tools and things that we don’t need, things that I’d never use (like a large ratchet set). I’ll also be getting rid of a large number of books that I have no reason to keep. I’ll open that up to Thomas’s pagan friends first and then donate the rest to the Symphony for their annual book sale. After that there should be room created for me to scan the family photos and then store them out of the way. I have no idea what I’ll do with them, but they’re our history, so I should keep them until I figure out what to do.
Of course, this is what I plan to do. What I actually do might be entirely different. I do tend to be on the lazy side and have always preferred to not work if I can avoid it.