Paul Bernardo won’t get cushier cell: Public Safety minister
Schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo won’t be enjoying a transfer from a tiny segregation cell in ancient Kingston Penitentiary to a more comfortable medium security prison, the federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness says.
“Paul Bernardo was convicted of heinous and despicable crimes,” Steven Blaney said in a prepared statement on Thursday. “While I do not control the security classification of individual prisoners, I have received assurances that there are no plans to move this inmate to a medium security institution.”
Blaney’s comments came amidst published reports that Bernardo sought to be transferred from his maximum-security segregation cell at Kingston Penitentiary to an Ontario medium-security prison.
Bernardo, formerly of Scarborough, was convicted in 1995 of the sex slayings of Niagara Region schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, whose lives were taken too soon,” Blaney said.
Correctional Service of Canada spokesperson Lori Pothier said she cannot speak about where prisoners are housed because of privacy concerns.
Pothier did acknowledge that a dangerous offender could be placed in a medium-security facility.
Blaney’s comments follow a blog posting by author Rob Tripp on cancrime.com that Bernardo had already requested a transfer to an Ontario medium-security prison.
Kingston Penitentiary is scheduled to be closed this fall.
For 18 years, Bernardo has been housed 23 hours a day in a Kingston cell that’s roughly 1.5 metres by 3 metres.
For the other hour, he can watch television or exercise.
Prisoners in solitary confinement cells can talk with prisoners in adjoining cells but they can’t see them.
A move to medium security would allow him face-to-face contact with other inmates, something he hasn’t experienced for the past 18 years.
A likely choice for Bernardo is Bath Institution on Lake Ontario, just west of Kingston. It has cottages rather than cellblocks but still has armed guards, unlike minimum security prison.
Bernardo is not seeking to be transferred out of the province, as he now apparently receives visits from his mother, noted Tripp, author of Without Honour, the True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders.
In his blog, Tripp dismissed published reports that Bernardo had already been transferred to Quebec.
Bernardo is locked in what is classed as “administrative segregation,” which is supposed to protect rather than punish him.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, prisoners are supposed to be released from segregation “at the earliest appropriate time.”
The act also allows the Correctional Service of Canada to “assign a security classification to each inmate.”
Bernardo was sentenced to two life terms in 1995 for the murders of Mahaffey and French and was further declared a dangerous offender, which means he does not ever have to be released, if he’s judged to be a threat to society.
Tripp notes that former high-profile Toronto child killers Saul David Betesh and John Carlos Terceira were transferred years ago from maximum to medium security prisons.
Betesh was convicted of the rape, torture and murder of Toronto schoolboy Emanuel Jacques in 1977.
Terceira was convicted in 1993 of the brutal sex slaying of 6-year-old Andrea Atkinson of Toronto.
Convicted sex killer and former Toronto police officer Richard Wills has already been transferred out of Kingston Penitentiary after his behavior disgusted prison staff and inmates, the Star earlier reported.
There have been published reports that notorious Ontario sex killers Michael Rafferty and Russell Williams have been transferred from Kingston to a maximum security prison in Quebec.
Rafferty was convicted of the 2009 kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford of Woodstock, Ont. while Williams, a former air force colonel from Tweed, near Kingston, confessed to two first-degree murders, two home-invasion sex assaults and dozens of break-ins in which women’s lingerie was stolen.
With files from Jennifer Pagliaro