Monday, 24 July 2017

Did his wife kill her husband for his insurance?  
Killing your spouse for money is risky at best, outright stupid if you aren’t eligible for the payout and perilous if you are suspected of your spouse’s murder.

There is an old saying that is most apt in this case I am presenting to you. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” This really applies if you want to commit murder for profit.  It was most applicable in the mysterious death of an Air Force colonel on a highway in Texas fourteen years ago. But was the victim murdered? I think he was but who did it?

When Bexar County Medical Examiner, Dr. Vincent DiMaio ruled almost immediately that USAF Col. Philip M. Shue had killed himself in an auto crash on April 16, 2003, eyebrows were raised in Boerne, Texas, but most folks in San Antonio weren't surprised.

Since then, DiMaio's dubbed the shooting death of retired Army Brig. Gen. Bernardo Negrete as a suicide", despite the widow's various versions of what happened (the late general was her fourth husband) and the presence of two shell casings, one on the floor, another in the wastebasket nearby.  The casings were from two different handguns in the bedroom where the well-respected flag officer allegedly killed" himself. Obviously, he didn’t kill himself.

Are we to presume that the general deposited the bullet casing in the trash bucket after fatally shooting himself with each gun?  Were the weapons both fired that night on September 16, 2005?  And did the police screw up, intentionally or otherwise, when gunpowder paraffin tests weren't conducted promptly, like it says in the police manual what must be done when shootings exist?  Well as we all know, there are really dumb cops in our police forces.   And now I will take you to the main case in this article.

In the case of the death of Col. Shue, the controversial and corpulent (really fat) forensic pathologist and Bexar County Medical Examiner, Dr. Vincent DiMaio declared that Shue must have killed himself.  How did he do it?  According to the stupid fat man, “he aimed his car at a clump of trees on Highway I-10 after torturing himself by cutting off both his nipples and slicing a six-inch gash in his chest while wearing his seat belt before he crashed.” If you believe this, I have property to sell you. It is in the nearby swamp. You will have all the privacy you will ever want.  

Tracy Shue knew that her late husband's first wife, Nancy Timpson had a million dollars in life insurance on Col. Shue. She rhetorically asked herself if that was an incentive on her part to commit murder? There was no hard evidence has yet been produced linking the first Mrs. Shue to the colonel's death.

But what about the $1.5 million in insurance Shue’s second wife, Tracy had on her hubby, not counting the $250,000 in SGLI (Serviceman's Group Life Insurance) and various other ‘monies’ that would come her way if anything happened to her spouse? That's close to two million dollars, not counting the monthly DIC (indemnity compensation payments), death gratuity, etc. T0 some people, these are real incentives to kill one’s hubby.     

That's not the only thing the ‘Widow Shue’ did. Back in 2003, she was suing the victim’s first wife, Nancy to try and stop her from collecting the million dollars insurance policy after her ex-husband's death.

When asked why she did this, (brace yourself) she said that she was going to defend the honor of her beloved husband!  “Nobody is going to profit from his tragic death.  No sir!” 

Just 76 days after the shock and surprise of her husband's terrible demise, the ‘Widow Shue’ and her first lawyer were in court trying to get the $1 million for themselves, using a little known provision in the Texas Insurance Code. What a hypocrite that woman is. 

 Forfeiture of Beneficiary's Right

The interest of the beneficiary in a life insurance policy or contract hereto or hereafter shall be forfeited when the beneficiary is the principal or an accomplice in willfully bringing about the death of the insured.  When such is the case, the nearest relative of the insured shall receive said insurance.

‘Widow Shue’ was obviously trying to put the blame of her late husband’s death onto his first wife.

It's all there in black and white.  Paragraph 19 under Shue’s Prayer (motion) says: “Plaintiff (Tracy Shue) seeks an Order that Defendant (Nancy Timpson) has forfeited the right to payment of proceeds and said proceeds be paid in accordance with Texas law (Article 21.23) to the nearest living relative, who is the Plaintiff in this action.” In other words: “ Gimmee the money!!!”

But, alas, it did not end well for wife number two.  No proof was offered or established that Nancy Timpson engaged in activity that willfully or in any other way, brought about the death of Col. Shue.  Thus a decision was made and the innocent wife number one got her money plus interest, while the conniving wife number two, instead of becoming the three-million dollar woman, she lost out and got a lesson in life's hard knocks. She got about as much sympathy as a bug gets when you are about to step on it.

However, the squished bug was determined to fight on.  She became engaged in a multi-million dollar battle with the deep-pockets USAA Insurance Company of San Antonio, Texas.  She contended that the company was negligent in carrying the huge life insurance policy on her late husband in view of his notification to them by letter that he had received a series of threatening letters and feared his ex-wife was out to see him dead. 

Don’t feel sorry for this shrew having to spend so much money to get more by trying to separate USAA from a few million bucks to add to her pile of money.  In my opinion, she was a greedy, grasping shrew, out to milk every last dime from her husband's death.

I will give you a possible scenario as to who may have tortured and killed the colonel. Keep in mind that it is mere speculation on my part because I have no evidence to pin-point who tortured and killed the colonel. I am going by what I have read about the case.

To surgically remove Col. Shue's nipples (like evenly slicing a stalk of celery with a steak knife) and cut the six inch gash in his chest, one needs an absolutely safe and secure environment in which to do this evil deed. Further, the colonel would have had to be unconscious first in order to do that so that he wouldn’t put up a fight.  

The deed would have to be done in a place where prying eyes wouldn't be focused at that time of the morning.  A place where a co-conspirator can arrive as planned and help in doing the torture and mutilation to make it appear  that the officer was the victim of Satanist or Devil Worshipers.  

The victim was rendered unconscious so that there would be no struggling or moving around, thus the perfect cutting rather than any jagged edges. It is also conceivable that his torturer and accomplice whoever that may have been  needed to strap him into the seat to keep him upright so he wouldn't attract attention from passersby while parked off to the side of the access road.

The colonel may have been placed in the Mercury Tracer at the spot where the woman driver reported seeing the car parked and a SUV close behind.

The colonel might have been meant or expected to come out of his drugged state and try to flee.  The large amount of Lidocaine in his system could have been injected in an inconspicuous place, like his armpit. But being in shock and suffering from loss of blood and horrified at what had been done to him, Col. Shue could reasonably be expected to panic and try and drive away from the scene as fast and as far as possible.

Eyewitnesses said that they had observed the Mercury Tracer erratically going all over the road and hitting a guardrail before finally smashing into a clump of trees.  Because of the air bag's inflation and him wearing a seat belt, I don’t think the accident killed him.

The motive for the torture was to make it "appear" someone else had done the carving and cast suspicion elsewhere than in Boerne, Texas.  It didn't work. 

As for the previous asinine theory of that dummy, Dr. Vincent DiMaio that Col. Shue mutilated himself and intended to die by a vehicular crash, it is utter nonsense. Can you imagine anyone cutting off both of his or her nipples with absolute surgical precision with no jagged edges and enduring unspeakable pain, gouging a six-inch gash in one's chest, slicing off the tip of one finger, pulling on a brown undershirt, then donning the top of a BDU uniform shirt, buttoning it up and finally reaching across and fastening an automobile seat belt all while fleeing from his captors?

I have one final rhetorical question to ask? Who thought that she would benefit the most from the colonel’s death?  That question may never be fully answered. On the other hand, I have my own theory as to who had a hand in the death of the colonel. I will leave the supposition to you to form your own opinion.   

Friday, 21 July 2017


To most people, it’s a great idea especially if the criminal is a convicted rapist or child molester. I can appreciate the feelings of non-criminals living in the community. But suppose the criminal was convicted of shoplifting or passing bad cheques. Should such criminals be prohibited from living in your community?

Here is another question to ponder. Suppose the convicted criminal is married and he and his wife have two children. Do you still think he should be banned from living in your community?  If so, then why would you punish his family by banning the wife from her husband and the children from their father?  I know what you are thinking. Let them move elsewhere. Is that fair, especially since their children are in the middle of their school year? As you can see, not all questions can be answered with conviction of your answers.

Many years ago I was asked to speak at a community meeting about a possible group home for young male offenders being built next to a park in a small section of a city in which the residents lived in luxurious homes. The residents were for the most part, against the concept. In my speech, I agreed with their concerns. The community was too small to have young offenders mingling with the children already living in the community. The proposal of the government was cancelled and the group home was built in a larger community. 

There are almost 800,000 federally registered sex offenders in the U.S. That registry originated in the 1990s when Congress passed legislation that severely targeted those who commit violent crimes and crimes against children. But states have their own varying laws in which Florida’s law being some of the most stringent. Sexual offenders in the state must notify public officials whenever they move; they’re subject to a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew; and they can’t live within at least 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park, playground or any other place where children often gather. Those restrictions, many victims’ families argue, are necessary to prevent sex offenders from engaging in further criminal activity.
As everybody now knows, sex offenders have a rough time of it after they get out of prison. If you are a registered sex offender in the United States, you lose your right to choose where you want to live. By law, your previous history doesn't matter nor does the nature of your crime or your excuse matter. You are exiled from society, and only a few communities will welcome you.
More than 90% of all employers in the United States conduct criminal background checks on applicants as reported in Michigan Law Journal. While the law does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about or even requiring information on convictions, the way this information is used can still be illegal. Many believe that applicants who have criminal convictions cannot be hired for jobs. This is entirely false. In most cases an outright ban of applicants with criminal convictions will not be upheld in court. An employer cannot use a conviction to bar someone from employment unless the conviction is for a crime that is directly related to the position’s duties. For example, a financial institution may bar individuals with embezzlement convictions from employment. However, they would not be able to justify barring individuals with marijuana possession convictions because it is not directly related to the duties of the position. A convicted child molester won’t be hired as a counsellor in a children’s camp. In fact in Canada, if a person wants to work with children, he must first get a certificate from the police department stating that he has no convictions re the abuse of children or a single child. Recently, a law was passed Canada that states that as of this year, any convictions of such abuse will remain in the federal registry for the remainder of the abuser’s life.

Many years ago, a man in Toronto applied for a job working in a factory alongside of women. When his potential employer learned that he had previously been convicted of rape, the offer of the job was cancelled. He sued the factory. The judge ordered the company to pay him thousands of dollars because they didn’t have the right to refuse him the job that he was qualified for since he had already paid for his crime when he spent several years in prison.

Most states in the U.S. have residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders, and as a result, after sex offenders leave prison they are often packed into the limited neighborhoods where they may live. For the most part, these limited neighbourhoods are where poor people live and also where crime thrives.

In some cases, the strict residency restrictions have caused more problems than they have solved. Many sex offenders cannot find housing in urban areas across the state and often are forced into homelessness. And as we all know, homelessness is prone to breed criminality.

There is a city in the U.S. that ordered all convicted sex offenders to live outside the city. A great many of them were forced to live under bridges in order to be protected from the rain and snow. I don`t care what their crimes were. They served their punishment in prison and now the city was punishing them again. That form of justice is counter-productive because it makes the ex-cons angry (and righty so) and having angry ex-cons roaming the streets is not in the best interests of the community. Homeless people resort to begging and forcing an ex-con to beg for money to buy food is terribly wrong.

What is in the best interests of the community is to give an ex-con a chance to find work and live in a decent home. When such ex-cons have those benefits, it is unlikely he will be willing to give that all up just to commit another crime. Some do but the majority of ex-cons who have a job and a home to live in aren`t willing to lose it all so they become crime free for the rest of their lives.

Residency restriction laws are a fairly new method some jurisdictions are using in an attempt to curb the actions of sex offenders. Alabama passed the first residency restriction law in 1996. The law was part of the state's Community Notification Act. It prohibited child molesters from living within 1,000 feet of a school. By January 2006, approximately 14 states had enacted residency restrictions. Moreover, some local governments have implemented their own residency restrictions. While this controversial residency law has raised questions of fairness and constitutionality, it is currently legal and valid. Some critics argue that it simply plays to the fears of the public which does little to actually curb sexual assaults.

Critics and supporters of residency restriction laws have watched Iowa's law with interest since its passage in 2002. The Iowa law applies to a "person who has committed a criminal offense against a minor, or an aggravated offense, sexually violent offense, or other relevant offense that involved a minor. According to the law, "A person shall not reside within two thousand feet of the real property comprising a public or non-public elementary or secondary school or a child care facility.`

A more pressing difficulty, however, is often finding a place to live. In some counties in Florida, sex offenders are banned from being within 3,000 feet of places where children congregate, such as schools and parks making living in most towns and cities virtually impossible.

Suppose the former sex offender`s family lives five hundred feet from the school and the former sex offender’s children go to that school. Do they all have to move out of that community thereby forcing the children go to another school during the second half of the school year?

Along southern Florida’s Muck City Road, southeast of the state’s massive Lake Okeechobee and hidden among hundreds of acres of sugar cane, sits Miracle Village that houses approximately 150 men. For decades, its tiny one-story residences housed migrants who worked the nearby sugar fields. Today, they house migrants of a different sort. Most of its residents are convicted sex offenders.

Curfew for some in Miracle Village is 7 p.m. Many residents have to wear GPS-monitored ankle bracelets that keep tabs on them at all times. They can’t interact with minors, even if they’re family. They’re subject to random drug tests. Some can’t use the Internet. Others can’t own a smartphone.

How about being ordered to move out of a state? Les Coffey stood at the Dade County border off Interstate 24 on December. 19,  2013 where he was recently banned. Coffey was banned from all four counties of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit in the State of Georgia. He was classed as a a menace, an outlaw. In other words, he was supposedly a bad man. The judge told him to get out, and stay out and don’t come back.

For seven years, beginning in December 2013, Coffey cannot enter any of the four counties that make up the circuit: Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker. This, police say, is because he stole from someone, and because he indirectly damaged a road, a fire department and a water drainage system during another incident.

Coffey pleaded no contest to those charges in Walker County Superior Court on December 2, 2013. The banishment is a condition of that plea, a condition Coffey and many other defendants in Georgia have agreed to. If Coffey comes back to one of those four counties, police can arrest him for violating his probation.

Houston County is the banishment capital of Georgia which has banned more than 400 of its citizens. People get banished for all sorts of reasons. Child molesters, prostitutes and burglars get banished. So do drug dealers and drug users. So do people who get angry and threaten to hurt others.

Should judges be allowed to kick lawbreakers out of our towns, our counties, our states or provinces or even a lawbreaker’s country?  

Obviously it is justified if an immigrant commits a series of crimes or a serious crime should be kicked out of the country that accepted him or her as a resident of the country he is in.

Some law enforcement officials say banishing people like Coffey from a county or several counties is an effective punishment. Banishment pushes those criminals away from their old friends who are fellow criminals giving them a chance to start fresh. It also assures that victims never have to run into the criminals who hurt them. I don’t take issue with that form of treatment.

However, should banishment be applied if the person to be banished is a family man whose family lives in one of the counties he is banished from?  Will that reform the criminal? I hardly think so. Opponents of banishment say the practice is unconstitutional. Banishment can possibly strip a person of the right to travel. It can also separate that person from his or her from his or her family which perhaps are the people the banished person needs the most. Further, it creates a criminal shuffle as one county pushes its criminal to another county to possibly commit crimes in order to survive. The procedure is calculated to make the criminal leave one state  just to live in another state. I think some of the people in the other State won’t be too happy with that happening to them.

Tennessee is another one of those who approve of banishment  however as per Article 1, Section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution says that a person in the state cannot be exiled except by a jury of his or her peers.

Even if banishment is acceptable in theory, the scope of banishment is up for debate. In 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Albert Trop vs. John Foster Dulles that kicking military deserters out of the country was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren argued that national banishment would destroy a person.

It is not unusual for some judges to ignore the dictates of the U.S. Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Quite frankly, I am in favour of denying a citizen re-entry to his or her own country if he or she was a terrorist in another country.

Gordie Bishop (a Canadian citizen) and age 32, was charged in January 2015 with aggravated assault of a peace officer, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, break and enter and other charges stemming from the incident. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Cathy Snelgrove intervened as Bishop was trying to escape. She was injured after trying to stop the getaway vehicle and was dragged downhill to the intersection of LeMarchant Road. She was still in hospital four days later.

Bishop has recently been sentenced to time served and banished from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, after serving as many as  825 days (approximately two years and three months) in custody for dragging a police officer with his getaway car. That's in addition to a one-year probation, a three-year driving ban and an order to leave the province while serving his probation.

The banishment order is to ensure Bishop does not return to his lifestyle of crime as evidenced by his 27-page criminal record.

According to his father, Gordon Davis, Bishop will likely move to Fort McMurray, where his mother resides. Apparently some of the people in Fort tMcMurray are not too happy having this man with such a horrendous criminal record in their town but there is nothing that they can do to stop him from coming into their community.

I remember going into the Internet and I found a residential building in Manhattan that had fifteen ex-cons who had been previously convicted of sex crimes living in that building. That is scary.

Is banning former prisoners OK? There are various factors to consider before making that decision. I however do believe that that there are some criminals that should be ordered to live in another city or town so that they don’t mingle with fellow criminals they hung around with before they were sent to prison. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Abuses against young offenders

In 1980, I discovered a U.S. report on the abuses brought upon young offenders held in U.S. federal government young offender facilities. That was the same year that I was invited by the United Nations to attend at the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders being held in Caracas, Venezuela. 

In a scathing speech that I gave; was about the U.S. government physically abusing the young offenders in their young offender’s facilities. The U.S. delegation was embarrassed when they heard my speech and subsequently sought permission to respond to my allegations. Permission was granted and the head of the delegation admitted that what I said was true and the delegation agreed with my statement that the U.N. should create a bill of rights for young offenders. He said that his delegation was going to bring in a resolution the following morning to order the U.N. to conduct a series of studies on my proposal around the world and that the U.S. needed seven nations to be seconders to their resolution. That night, I met with the head of the U.S. delegation and he asked me to help him draft of their resolution. The next morning, all the nations voted in favour of the U.S. resolution. 

Studies were conducted all over the world during the next five years. The final draft the Bill of Rights for Young Offenders was created in Beijing, China and in September 1985, it was put to a vote at the Seventh U.N. Congress being held in Milan. All the nations attending gave their approval to forward it to the U.N. General Assembly in New York for their final vote.  

In November 1985, the U.N. General Assembly voted in favour of the draft that was then referred to the Beijing Rules and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Administration of Juvenile Justice. I am recognized by the U.N. as the precursor of the U.N. rules for the rights of young offenders.

As the years moved on, I was dismayed when reading about new accounts of abuses being committed against young offenders so I wrote another paper on that subject. I was invited to speak at conferences being held in Belgium and Peru about my concerns that young offenders were still being abused.  Then in 2005, I was invited to speak at the Tenth U.N. Congress being held in Bangkok, Thailand. My paper which was distributed to all the delegations was titled; Why do we as a society, still abuse young offenders?  What follows is my speech.

The Rules were to have an effect on millions upon millions of children around the world—children in need of protection from abuse in our justice and correctional systems. To the children in trouble with the law in many of the signatories to the convention, the Rules were a blessing.

Unfortunately, some signatories have, since 1986, ignored some of the various rights that were to be afforded to these unfortunate children. It is the purpose of this paper to give descriptions of some of the abuses that were heaped upon some of these young offenders who were supposed to be protected under the auspices of these Rules.

In 1980, my main complaint that prompted me to suggest the creation of a bill of rights for young offenders were about problems related to government correctional facilities that were housing young offenders. A quarter of a century later, there are still problems in government young offender correctional facilities and this is still one of my main complaints.

Section 13.5 of the Rules states that “while in custody, juveniles shall receive care, protection and all necessary individual social, educational, vocational, psychological, medical and physical assistance that they may require in view of their age, sex and personality.”

In my own country, Canada, it takes pride in treating its young offenders in a decent manner. On any given day in the years 2002 and 2003, an average of just over 29,400 young people age 12 to 17 were either in custody or under supervised probation. The vast majority (90% or about 26,400 youths) were on probation and yet, we as a nation had problems in the past relating to the mistreatment of our young charges.

Beginning in 1925, training schools for young offenders operated in various forms across Ontario in Canada as reformatories for wayward children, often as young as eight and often for “crimes” as minor as truancy and obscene phone calls. Many training schools continued to house children aged 12 to 18 until the mid-1980s, when passage of the federal Young Offenders Act formally signaled the end of the training-school era in Canada. Many of the young offenders who attended those institutions in the 1960s and 1970s suffered lifelong emotional scars. Many later had drug and alcohol addictions and struggled to stay out of jail and more often than not, their struggles were in vain.

Brutal and uncaring staff in these institutions abused these young children in both boys and girls institutions. The children were sexually and physically abused. I remember when I worked in such an institution when in 1956 it was common practice in that institution and other similar institutions across Canada to strap the children after they were ordered to strip naked. On two occasions, I was ordered to strap two teenage boys on their buttocks, one for disobeying an order and the other for bullying a smaller inmate. I regretted it then and I regret it even now, having to inflict that kind of punishment on those two young offenders. Canada finally realized that corporal punishment was counterproductive and in 1975, it was no longer applied in government institutions or prisons and it isn’t permitted in our schools either. In fact, in Canada, it is considered torture and any official who tortures another person in Canada can be sent to prison for 14 years.

In the latter part of the last century, stories began filtering out of these institutions of staff members sexually abusing hundreds of the children in these institutions across Canada. At least 89 young victims had been subjected to abusive acts at three facilities in the province of Nova Scotia. Over 60 former students in one institution described the acts of abuse to which they had been subjected. There were reports of 205 occurrences of physical abuse and 103 incidents of sexual abuse. The boys were not believed and were instructed by the superintendent of that institution to stop making false accusations against the staff. In a girl’s institution in that province, nine former residents of the Nova Scotia School for Girls tendered evidence at an Inquiry of acts of physical and sexual abuse. The girls were 13 to 16 years old at the time the acts occurred. The sexual abuse included sexual intercourse, oral and anal sex. Both male and female counsellors at the school were responsible for those acts of sexual and physical abuse.

In the province of New Brunswick, 48 victims of abuse testified at an Inquiry into the sexual abuses taking place in the New Brunswick Training School, which ironically had been designated as a ‘place of safety.’ for young offenders. The perpetrator of most of these crimes against the children was a staff member called Karl Toft. These abuses occurred for over a period of 30 years, beginning in 1962. Children were beaten and sexually assaulted; some of the sexual acts included buggery and fondling of genitalia. Toft got 12 years in prison for his crimes.

Before I get into more of our past problems, let me speak briefly about the Province of Ontario which is the second largest province in Canada, so that you have some concept of this part of Canada when I refer to it later in my paper. The size of Ontario is 12 times larger than Peru. Of course, Peru has incredible mountains, something that Ontario doesn’t have and Peru has that beautiful lake, Titicaca but Ontario has 250,000 lakes, some of them being the largest in the world. The population of Ontario is currently twelve and a half million people. Its largest city, Toronto along with the immediate surrounding communities, has five million people in which over half of them are people who immigrated to Canada from other countries.

We  in  Ontario  as  others  in  Canada  like  to  think  of  ourselves  as  an enlightened province but unfortunately, we too have had our failings when it came to justice for young offenders.     

The Ontario Training School for Girls, renamed the Grandview Training School for Girls in 1967, was located in Cambridge, Ontario. The girls who attended the training school were wards of the Ontario government which was responsible for the care, custody and control of these so-called wayward girls. Some had been found guilty of petty crimes, others were orphans, some were children found begging and some were even children whose parents were in prison. They were all sent to Grandview. These were terrible reasons for incarcerating children. I am happy to say that that isn’t done anymore in Canada. It has been estimated that over 200 girls in that institution were abused. There were probably more than were unreported. The abuse involved beatings, breaking of limbs, pushing children down stairs, arbitrary and exploitative internal examinations which were not medically justified, strappings, meals withheld as punishment, insufficient food and nutrition, and forced abortions are just some of the acts of physical abuse to which the girls were subjected. The acts of sexual abuse included digital penetration, oral sex, penetration of objects, anal sex, masturbation, sexual intercourse, and fondling of breasts and buttocks. The hair of residents was cut without their consent, girls were compelled to give up their babies for adoption, and many girls were forced to strip off their clothes before the male guards as a form of degradation. There was excessive and cruel use of solitary confinement during which the girls were deprived of food, toilet facilities, and clothes.

The St. John's Training School was located in Uxbridge, northwest of Toronto and opened in 1895. The St. Josephs Training School was established in 1933 in Alfred, Ontario, 70 kilometres east of Ottawa. These institutions were operated by the Christian Brothers, a religious order associated with the Roman Catholic Church and they were funded by the Ontario government. Both institutions were governed by the Training Schools Act. Initially, the Department of Reform Institutions and then the Ministry of Correctional Services was responsible for St. John's and St. Joseph's. The boys sent to these training schools ranged in age from 7 to 17 years old. Some of them were wards of the Children's Aid Society; who had been mistreated and neglected children and were in need of protection. Several had been sent to these institutions by their school principals, parents or priests who believed that the training schools would be beneficial to their development. Some of the boys had committed theft offences and had been committed to the school for an indefinite term. Others had not been convicted of a crime, but rather had been deemed incorrigible or unmanageable by a judge because they did not regularly attend school or they stayed out late at night.

The abusive acts in these two training schools were not isolated but rather occurred with regularity right up to the 1980s. Brutal strappings occurred publicly and in isolation. The boys were handcuffed behind their backs with shackles on each foot, hit with hockey sticks, beaten with razor straps, compelled to stand outdoors in the cold with little clothing, and forced to run until they collapsed from exhaustion. Those who attempted to run away faced serious consequences. They would be subjected to beatings on bare buttocks with a razor strap or a paddle, then handcuffed and shackled and placed in solitary confinement for as long as two weeks. Their diet consisted of bread and water. Habitual runaways were handcuffed to their beds at night. Residents who refused to perform sexual acts on the Christian Brothers were beaten. The food at the schools was inadequate and of poor quality. It has been reported that poor medical treatment was responsible for the deaths of some of the boys. Sodomy, mutual masturbation, oral sex, fondling of genitals were some of the sexual acts perpetrated on the boys. There were over 400 former children of these two institutions who alleged they were subjected to physical and/or sexual abuse during their years at St. Joseph's and St. John's. Happily, these institutions were finally closed down and the abusers punished. End of my speech.

Time doesn’t permit me to take you into the other young offender institutions across Canada run by their respective governments and native residential schools run by catholic and protestant churches where the young charges were physically and sexually abused. It is suffice to say however that that there has been a great improvement across all of Canada in the manner in which we treat young people in our institutions but we as a nation still have to live with the shame of our treatment of young people that took place in our institutions in the past. Our current system of the treatment and care of young offenders in Canada generally works but even though we have what we consider a just society, it has had its failures. These failures can be attributed to staff brutality, indifference and outright stupidity. These problems occur because juvenile corrections staff often respond to the conditions of their work with hopelessness and resentment, and these negative attitudes are too frequently expressed through the brutal and inconsistent treatment of the young offenders under their care. Consequently, many confined young offenders lose all respect for authority figures while in custody and later when released back into society.

I would be remiss however if I didn’t bring to your attention an incident that happened just a few years ago in a local government institution in Toronto where young offenders waiting for their trials were kept. I will not be speaking of brutality but rather that equally terrible scourge in our young offender facilities—outright stupidity on the part of staff. In a local government operated institution in Toronto, a sixteen-year-old boy who was mentally ill and had been charged with stealing cheques from his relatives, was sent to this detention centre while waiting for his trial. While there, he was constantly teased by other inmates and made to eat his own vomit off the floor. Finally, he had enough and after he was locked in his cell, he wrapped a bed sheet around his neck and hanged himself with the other end of the bed sheet tied to a metal bar at the top of his bunk 

It was here that the real stupidity of the staff ran amok. The guard, who walked by and saw him hanging, wasn’t able to cut the dying boy down because he had been forbidden to carry a knife when doing his rounds.

He reached for his radio and finding it missing, he left the youth hanging by his neck and walked to a control station at the end of the range to summon help. He not only walked to the control centre to avoid panic but stopped on the way back to put three youths who were in an open area back into their cells — a process that involved unlocking and then relocking the cells. When he finally got back to the victim’s cell, the boy was near death.

The prison nurse, who after being informed that the boy was hanging by his neck, neglected to bring any resuscitation equipment with her and had to return to the health station for it, and another officer who arrived at the cell could not cut the youth down because he too did not have with him the C-shaped knife used for such emergencies.

This mentally ill youth, managed to end his life on Oct. 1, 2002 while under a suicide watch—he died hours later after he was rushed to a hospital. 

The  stupidity  of  the  staff occurred that night despite the fact that at least five  other  inmates  in  that  correctional  facility  had  earlier attempted  to  hang themselves using sheets. The 130-bed detention centre for 16- and 17-year-old youths awaiting trial had previously been condemned by that province’s child advocate as being chaotic and unsafe. That young offender’s facility was finally closed down. Canada is certainly not the only country in the world that has abused young people in their care. When I gave my address at the Sixth United Nations Congress held in Caracas in 1980, I spoke of the abuses in government- operated young offender facilities in the United States. I chose the United States as my choice of complaint for two reasons. Their freedom of information made that possible and I have always felt from my past experiences in school yards as a child, that if you want to get a point across to your fellow students, stand up to the biggest kid in the school. Don’t get me wrong. I love Americans and have spent a great deal of time travelling around the United States over the years.

But the Americans had problems in their past also and it was these problems that I was bringing to the attention of the delegates at that 1980 U.N. Congress.

One such American institution was doing medical experiments on the children and when some of the children died; their parents were told that their children had run away. One crazy superintendent of one of the institutions kept the kids in solitary confinement for six months. They saw no light or heard any sound. It was his belief that this would erase their memories and they could be retrained into being good children. Well over the years, all that kind of conduct stopped in the government operated institutions in the United States.

As I mentioned earlier, my original concerns were the manner in which young offenders were dealt with in government operated young offender facilities but now there is even a greater problem that is facing young offenders. I am speaking of correctional facilities that are operated by private organizations. What follows are some of the horror stories that have come to light of what has occurred inside some of these young offenders facilities for boys and girls in the United States.

Established by both law and policy, the institutions were supposed to rehabilitate and treat children charged with misdeeds ranging from refusing to attend school to homicide.

A 48-page report made public in 2003 by investigators in the United States painted a bleak picture of the privately-run institutions as debilitating dumping grounds for troubled children. Woefully underfinanced, understaffed and ill-equipped, the institutions and their poorly trained workers doled out a volatile mix of physical and verbal abuse and in some institutions, mandatory Bible study, but at the same time, they withheld basic medical care and a decent education—all in violation of the covenant that that country signed with the United Nations.

Investigators who descended on the institutions four times in 2003 found ample evidence to declare that children as young as ten were being mistreated. Here are some examples of the mistreatment those children were subjected to.

Boys and girls were routinely hogtied and placed in dark cells,  shackled to poles or locked in restraint chairs for hours for minor infractions such as talking in the cafeteria or not saying "Yes” or “No,  sir."

Girls were made to run while carrying tires and boys while carrying logs, sometimes to the point of vomiting and they were often forced to eat their own vomit.

Boys  and  girls  were  also  choked,  slapped,  beaten  and  attacked  with pepper spray as a form of punishment.

Girls  at  a  training  school  for  girls  who  misbehaved or were on suicide watch were stripped naked and left in a windowless, stifling cinder-block cell, with nothing but the concrete floor to sleep on and a hole in the floor for a toilet, for several days and sometimes even a week at a time. One girl had been locked in a bare cell while naked for 114 straight days.

The ‘Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice’ clearly states that young offenders who are in correctional facilities should be properly medically cared for and yet there were some young offender facilities where this edict was not being adhered to.

The  acting  head  nurse  at  the  aforementioned  training  school  ignored children's  injuries  and  illnesses,  refused  to  help  girls  fainting  from  heat  and she even blocked children from having access to the visiting doctor. The nurse at another young offender training camp was seen immunizing two children for Hepatitis B with the same needle. Dental care was nonexistent, and the dental clinic at that young offenders training camp was a mess of mouse droppings, dead roaches and long-expired medicines.
 A sixteen-year-old boy in one of the young offender training camps should have been in a hospital instead of doing construction work and then being forced to do pushups. The boy collapsed with a severe lung infection at the camp for delinquents. 

After doing construction in the morning, he was assigned to leaf cleanup. When he balked, staffers ordered him to do calisthenics. When he refused again, they put him in an isolation barracks. When he fought back, they placed him in a ''control position.'' When he defecated on himself, they carried him to a shower. When he would not get dressed, they put clothes on him and helped him do more calisthenics. At one point, the staff helped the boy do push-ups by grabbing his belt and pulling him up and down. Shortly after that, the boy died.

At the time of his death, the boy’s lungs were filled with pus—the byproduct of pneumonia, bronchitis and strep and staph infections. He had been sick with empyema, an accumulation of pus in the lining between his left lung and chest cavity which had been reducing the elasticity in his left lung for weeks. Finally, after that hellish day at the institution, his heart stopped beating for lack of oxygen. That privately-run young offender’s facility was closed down.

When a fifteen-year-old boy was sent by the court to another privatized young offender’s facility in March 2003 after a string of burglaries, he hoped to get treatment for his bipolar disorder, which relatives say arose from sexual abuse he suffered at age 3. But in letters to his father, the boy was soon begging to be transferred to a state mental hospital.

Despite the fact that he was to be given psychiatric treatment, he had only been visited by a therapist for two minutes. He had been given his punishment but denied what he needed most—psychiatric treatment.

Though mentally ill and retarded children belong elsewhere, 66 to 85 percent of the young offender correctional training camps residents were found to have mental disorders and 9 percent were  suicidal.  Yet psychiatrists spent an average of just one day a month on campus, mainly performing court evaluations and not treating patients. Individual staff members handled as many as 30 children each, allowing for little of the personal attention as required by law.

New students at some institutions were kept out of classes for three to five weeks, violating compulsory attendance laws. They were routinely pulled from class for work details, and those in isolation got sporadic instruction or none at all. In the year 2001, there was an investigation into the death of a fourteen-year-old boy at a desert boot camp for troubled youth. He was dehydrated delirious and forced to eat mud by his counselor. Other campers told of abusive treatment they said they had suffered at the hands of staff members who were not much older than the children they were supervising. Children at the camp were punched, kicked, handcuffed and forced to swallow mud regularly. The younger campers were often made to ingest dirt that turned to mud after staff members poured water into their mouths. They said they were allowed to wear only black sweat pants and sweatshirts in temperatures that regularly exceeded 37 degrees Celsius and were physically abused for asking for food, water or medical attention. That privately-run camp was shut down also.

The fourteen-year-old boy was one of many children to die in a series of incidents in recent years at so-called wilderness therapy camps for young people in which rugged conditions and tough discipline were used to break antisocial and, in many cases, criminal habits. Many of the camps were not regulated by government authorities but were run by private organizations.                                

At one such camp, on one occasion, all the campers were told to lie on their backs alongside one another after which the teenage staff members wearing boots; ran across their chests. Complaints, the boys said, were answered with physical punishment. They would make the boys stand up at attention, and if they moved they'd punch the boys in their stomachs. In one instance, the campers were made to place rocks along a trail and if the boys didn't do it right, the teenage staff members would stomp on the arms of the boys. In one instance, a boy’s arm was broken as a result of being stomped on.  The boys said they were frightened of the man in charge of the camp. It was alleged that he once held a knife to the throat of an older boy who wanted to quit the program. What government in its right mind would hire teenagers as staff in such facilities? In privately run facilities, this can happen as teenagers hired by these business firms will work for less than their adult counterparts. In many of these privately-run young offender facilities, there was no real supervision and as such, the young inmates were often brutalized by stronger inmates.         

In one privately operated training school, the girls were repeatedly pepper-sprayed while running up and down a hill 125 times. If a girl stopped to catch her breath, the staff member nearest her would pepper spray her in her face.  

The first military-style boot camp for young offenders was built in Orleans Parish in the state of Louisianna in 1985. Throughout the '80s and '90s, dozens more opened in the United States, as politicians reacted to voter panic about youth crime. At the time, the idea seemed sound—forcing army-style discipline on delinquents would add structure to the lives of kids. By learning the merits of discipline and teamwork, young offenders would gain self-respect and motivation.

I personally advocated the use of such camps over the years because I saw the maturing of teenagers that attended children’s camps when they learned how to rough it in the wilds. However, in those camps, they had the option to not rough it. Enforced roughing it in the wilds doesn’t work. 

New Jersey's boot camp for juvenile offenders opened in 1996 amid numerous studies documenting that similar camps in other states were ineffective in rehabilitating wayward teenagers.           

The governor of the State of New Jersey promised everyone that New Jersey's camp would be different, mainly because of its follow-up program, which she called the most intensive in the nation. She told reporters at the boot camp's first graduation in June 1996, that each graduate would get frequent visits from a parole counselor and a volunteer mentor for eight months. Despite the governor’s promise, the mentor program was never implemented, though some boot camp graduates had mentors visited them for several months through private agencies. Graduates were visited by parole counselors, but because of caseloads that often averaged around 40 teenagers, weekly or semi-weekly visits often last only a few minutes.

There have been as many as 53 publicly funded boot camps for juveniles in the United States, with bed spaces for 4,500 kids. Enthusiasm for the boot camp model however is quickly tapering off. Officials in the State of Georgia in the United States also abandoned the boot camp model after it was discovered the program wasn't reducing youth crime rates. Similar facilities for juveniles have been closed in Colorado, North Dakota and Arizona. Project Turnaround was Ontario's first private sector strict discipline/boot camp secure custody program for young offenders ages 16 and 17 which began operations in July 1997.

A private correctional organization called Encourage Youth Corporation was awarded the contract to operate the facility. The rules at that boot camp were strict: up at 6, school from 8 until noon, then vocational training all afternoon. Physical exercise or drill was conducted three times a day and there was no television in the facility. Such was life for the 32 young offenders at Project Turnaround, Ontario's debut "boot camp" for juvenile criminals who were there at any particular time. Did it work? Apparently not. The evaluation of the short-lived experiment in which over two hundred young criminals were kept in that facility, showed that when they were released, they re-offended at the same rate as others who were released from ordinary secure custody facilities. Worse yet, they achieved less academically, making them less able to get good jobs and thereby, more likely causing them to re-offend.

Some countries are filling their juvenile halls and training schools with children guilty of lesser offenses—either to justify the costs of new detention centers, or because no other option exists. Many of the poorest countries have no group homes or short-term treatment centers for young offenders. They end up using training schools as a catch basin for all the child and youth problems in their countries.

If the treatment of young offenders in the United States and Canada; two countries that love freedom and their children, was so shabby in the past in some of their young offender correctional facilities, imagine if you will, what must be happening to imprisoned young offenders in third world countries where those countries don’t have the money to build suitable facilities and train staff on how to treat their young charges. In some communities, juvenile detention facilities are simply the first stop on a road that invariably leads directly to an adult prison.

Experts say there is little mystery about how the facilities for young offenders reached such a deplorable state. Public concern for treating juvenile offenders had waned, as had the attention of child-advocacy groups, to battles considered already won. Legislators had repeatedly cut financing for the young offender facilities saying the need for more funding wasn’t there.

Some government young offender facilities in Canada and the United States that were run by provincial, state and federal governments cared for their young charges and treated them decently but many did not. 

Child development and juvenile justice experts agree that in theory, youths should not be treated in the criminal justice system in the same manner as adults. For example, juvenile corrections facilities should provide a setting for establishing positive relationships that influence the healthy development of young offenders. Unfortunately, juvenile incarceration has not been particularly successful in producing better young citizens. This is because for the most part, juvenile justice is too often characterized by inconsistent laws, policies, and variations in enforcement and the systematic oppression of young people. Not only do these youth expect to spend time in detention, some think of it as a rite of passage. The environment within a juvenile facility may actually foster criminality. Juveniles exchange information, criminal skills, and the values and beliefs of a criminal subculture.

In  the  province  of  Ontario,  the  Ministry  of  Corrections  supervises the detention and release of young offenders and is designed to effect a change in the attitudes of those individuals in order to prevent them from re-offending. All correctional officers who work in young offender correctional facilities receive basic and advanced training to enable them to appropriately carry out their tasks. Their training includes education and information regarding the prohibition against mistreatment in a correctional setting. All correctional staff receive education and training in relevant statutes and regulations, security protocols, principles of ethics, the proper use of force and the effective use of non-physical intervention and communications.

Nowadays, young persons in Canada who are charged with relatively minor criminal offences, such as shoplifting, may be eligible for alternative measures programs unique to each province. In Ontario, young persons who are guilty of such offences, may apply to the local Crown Attorney to be considered for alternative measures. If approved, the criminal charges will be withdrawn or stayed upon the young persons' undertakings to do community work, write apologies to his victim, make restitution, write essays, or do some public service in what we refer to as community service. There are other various sentencing options available to young offenders including an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge, a fine, a prohibition order  such  as,  not  possess  a  weapon of any kind, probation, open custody, or secure custody.

An absolute discharge means no sentence other than the finding of guilt and no record of a conviction is registered. A conditional discharge provides the same, conditional upon satisfactory completion of a period of probation. Community service orders are administered by a local community service co-ordinator or probation officer and often involve work in community centres for seniors or the environment. Open custody means removal from the home for a fixed term and placement in a group home setting. Although there may be no bars on the doors and windows of an open custody placement, rules and staff provide significant limits to one's freedom.

Secure custody means jail for young persons with bars and electronic security. Young persons sentenced to open or secure custody do not receive the statutory or earned remission or parole that adults receive. Young persons serve the full time to which they are sentenced. In Ontario, there are no weekend or intermittent sentences for young persons. An adolescent who has  served  6 months of his or her custody term may apply to the original sentencing judge to reduce the custodial portion of the original sentence. Temporary absences are sometimes available from the provincial director. 

We have a system in Canada called Restorative Justice. This is available to first-time young offenders who aren’t charged with violence. The process takes the form of a conference with the offender and his or her supporters and the victim and his or her supporters. A police officer trained and experienced in working with young people conducts the meeting. The young offender admits responsibility and then the participants review what the young offender did and why he or she did it. The offender explains why he or she did it and the victim explains how he or she suffered as a direct result of the harm committed by the young offender. Then as a group, they seek a consensus about how to repair the harm.

The outcome of the meeting is that the young offender apologizes and may be instructed to pay restitution if property was stolen or damaged and may also be instructed to do some community service. For many offenders, this program is a success because it reduces the possibility of a reoccurrence. Many in the field of crime prevention believe that this kind of treatment is more effective than subjecting the young offender to a trial and probation.

Despite society’s failings in the treatment of their young people in correctional facilities, there are ways we can improve the lot of these most unfortunate children. 

First, get rid of the privately operated young offender facilities or alternatively, have more state control over them. It seems that this is where most of the current abuses lie.

Second, each facility should have a committee of concerned citizens called “visitors” inspecting the facilities. A Young Offender Facility Visitor Program should be set up for each young offender facility so that well-meaning and respected persons, such as judges, criminologists, social workers, psychologists, retired nurses, retired correctional officials and perhaps even sports and entertainment personalities can visit these correctional facilities regularly and  talk  with  young  offenders  on  a  one-to-one  basis  who  wish  to express  their  concerns  about  their  wellbeing  to  the  Young  Offender  Facility ‘visitor’  who  is  interviewing  them.  This  would  be  especially  helpful  for those incarcerated  young  offenders  who  don’t  have  visits  from  family  members, relatives or friends of the family.

Hong  Kong  has  such  a program.  It works  for them.  In certain  parts of India, they have a Prison Visiting System which acts as a potential tool for prison reforms.  It works for them also.  If these visitor programs can work in these countries, it should work elsewhere. 

Canada used to have grand juries inspecting prisons but that concept ended years ago. Now imprisoned citizens can write their provincial ombudsman if they have a complaint. That works for adults but it is highly unlikely that young children will avail themselves of that opportunity to express their grievances. This is why I believe that a Prison Visiting Program is a more appropriate way of resolving the problem of child abuse in young offender facilities.

The question that comes to the fore is; who is responsible for these crimes against these young offenders?

The answer, to some degree can be found, ironically enough, from the words of one of the most horrible human beings that ever inhabited this world. His statement however that he made at his trial is so applicable in situations like what took place in the institutions I have just written about. His name was Rudolf Hoess, the SS commandant at the Auschwitz concentration camp.. He said in part:

“This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centres, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people and later by the prisoners who were freed, were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies and others who laid violent hands on the detainees.”  unquote

Hosse wasn’t hanged because of the individual violence committed on the prisoners by his underlings but because he supervised the extermination of his prisoners. But his reference to his guards and others committing brutal assaults on his prisoners is so apt when considering what has been done to the young offenders in the institutions that I have written about. The senior staff in those institutions were indifferent to the plight of the young offenders just as Hosse was indifferent to the plight of his prisoners. 

As an aside; in the Province of Ontario, the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety has a department in its Corrections aspect of the ministry that inspects the jails, detention centres and correctional institutions to make sure that they are operated properly. They also investigate inmate complaints. My oldest daughter is one of the compliance officers and inspectors in that Department.

Hopefully, as the years move on, in the United States and Canada where young offenders are incarcerated, they will never be physically and mentally abused again while in the care of correctional facilities.

Sometime in the future, I will submit articles about abuses of young offenders in other countries.