Wednesday 15 December 2010

Serial killers should spend more than 25 years in prison

In 1980, (August 25 – September 5) the United Nations conducted the UN’s Sixth Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in Caracas, Venezuela. The delegates came from 121 nations. I was invited to present two of my papers at the Congress of which one of the papers was on the subject of capital punishment. That was one of the topics scheduled to be discussed at that Congress.

Since its foundation, the United Nations has continuously expressed its concern over the continuation of capital punishment so since the issue had not been discussed at previous Congresses, the UN decided to deal with that issue in Caracas.

Nine countries had proposed a moratorium on capital punishment and they were jointly asking the nations participating in the debates in Caracas to consider putting a hold on capital punishment in their countries for a period of five years in hopes that an alternative method of dealing with murderers could be found.

I was scheduled to be the last person to address the delegates on this extremely volatile topic. One of the advantages of being the last person to speak is that no one after that can address the delegates after the final conferee has spoken. That actually did happen in Caracas however when I proposed a bill of rights for young offenders and the head of the American delegation was permitted to respond to what I had said but that was the first and last time such a privilege was ever given.

The person who addressed the delegates immediately before me was a staunch advocate against capital punishment. I am also a staunch advocate against capital punishment and my position on this subject was studied at great length by all the members of the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate before they voted to abolish capital punishment in Canada.

Now anyone who has ever studied public speaking knows that there are times when you are given the task of reversing your original stand on any topic you are asked to talk about. This was one of those times but there was a purpose in my intent to advocate capital punishment at that Congress. What I really wanted was the countries to find a suitable alternative, such as natural life in prison without any hope of parole.

I knew that if the nations at that Congress went along with the nine countries’ proposed moratorium on capital punishment, they would not feel the urgent need to find a suitable alternative. If on the other hand, the nations attending that Congress were not persuaded to accept the moratorium, capital punishment would still be practiced in those countries that have it and therefore there would be a greater impetus to find an alternative.

Let me say right from the start, my reasons for recommending life in prison over capital punishment has nothing whatsoever to do with the sanctity of the murderer’s life. I don’t give a tinker’s dam (it’s not damn) about a murderer’s life. I was then and still am only concerned that innocent defendants may be executed.

But as I hinted earlier, sometimes when you are pressing for change, you can obtain it by playing the Devil’s Advocate. I knew that if I argued hard enough for the retention of capital punishment, I might be able to sway some if not most of the delegates to refuse to accept the moratorium. It this occurred, then I would have succeeded in my goal, the goal being that the nations might then search for a more suitable alternative such as life in prison without parole. That way, if later a person is found innocent, he can be set free and compensated. That has happened a number of times in Canada and one man who spent 21 years in prison for a murder the Supreme Court later ruled he didn’t commit, was set free and given $10 million dollars tax free as compensation.

In my speech in Caracas, I said in part;

“As a retentionist, I am not advocating the torture of murderers. I follow the concept of punishment as suggested by Bernard Shaw that murderers should be put out of the way quickly and painlessly.” unquote

I also said in part;

“The most contentious of all issues on the matter of capital punishment is retribution. There are very few people willing to attempt to justify capital punishment on the grounds of retribution alone but I am not afraid to stand beside these people to be counted.” unquote

I then went on to describe some of the more hideous murderers whose crimes of murder were so vile, even a priest would be tempted to vote for his execution. I even spoke about a man in Peru who murdered 360 children and I said he would be released from prison in 12 years and sure enough, he was released from prison 12 years later. That is hardly just.

Apparently my speech and those of other retentionists made an impact on the nine countries that advocated the moratorium. The next day they withdrew it.

As the years moved on, many countries abolished capital punishment and it also included most of the America States so that life in prison without parole became the alternative to capital punishment in those States, just as I had hoped for.

Naturally, I am no longer advocating capital punishment, except for terrorists who murder their victims. That is a topic for another article in my blog.

However, Canada does not necessarily send a murderer to prison without any hope of parole. Even the serial killer, Clifford Olsen who murdered eleven children and teenagers can apply for parole now that he has served the 25-year-minimum sentence for first degree murder. He probably won’t get it and having been turned down twice, he has stated that he won’t apply again.

My concern however is that he is still eligible to apply for parole. Let me tell you something about this hideous man and you will appreciate why he should never, ever be released from prison. This man is a walking argument for why Canada needs an overhaul of its system of early release for serial, mass and multiple murderers.

When Olson was convicted in 1982 of 11 brutal murders of boys and girls aged 9 to 18, he was already a career criminal who should not have been on the streets. From 1957 to 1981---- before he was charged with any murders ---- Olson had been incarcerated for 21 years for over 90 convictions, including: obstructing justice; possession of stolen property; unlawfully in a dwelling house; possession of firearms; forgery; false pretenses; fraud; impaired driving; theft; break and enter; armed robbery; escaping lawful custody; and parole violation.

Many other charges had been stayed. They included: kidnapping with robbery and violence; buggery involving a young male; indecent assault, gross indecency and buggery involving a young female; two charges involving firearms; contributing to juvenile delinquency; indecent assault of a young female; and three charges of impaired driving.

Olson was a long-time snitch, so it's no surprise that until 1981 he had never been convicted of a single sexual offence or crime of violence and was never labeled a habitual or dangerous offender. The prosecutors were so anxious to have this snitch report on his fellow prison inmates, they forgave him for many of the crimes he committed. He made a mockery of our entire criminal justice system.

Between 1957 and 1968, Olson escaped from jail seven times. Yet, in 1972, he still got parole, ostensibly for good behaviour and for not being deemed a risk. His parole was eventually revoked. But between 1973 and 1980 again, before being charged with any murders, he had six different mandatory releases, which are automatically granted after a prisoner has served two-thirds of a sentence. Five of those releases were suspended and revoked. Olson committed countless crimes while free on parole or mandatory release.

There is more salt to rub into the wound. Olson was once stabbed in prison by another inmate, so he applied to the Saskatchewan Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and was awarded $3,500 since Olson was the victim of a crime. Further, the feds put $90,000 into a trust fund for Olson's wife and son in return for Olson's confession and his leading the police to bodies not yet discovered.

And as is his right, he kept applying for parole. He even kept phoning the grieving families after he was imprisoned for killing their children and he never once expressed remorse to them for murdering their children.

How much taxpayer money has been forked over to the Olson file through the years? In addition to the $93,500 mentioned above, there is the cost of incarcerating the offender in a maximum-security, federal penitentiary. In today's dollars, we are talking $147,135 a year, not to mention the fact that Olson also collects about $1,200 a month through the Old Age Security pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement programs. That is because he is a senior citizen now. However, I believe the government intends to put an end to that source sometime in the future.

On October 26th , 2009, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages, announced that the Government of Canada plans to fix the problem in the parole system that allows early release of criminals. More than a year has gone by and nothing of that nature has yet come about.

Minister Van Loan said, “Our Government believes the justice and corrections systems should not put the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians. That is why we have taken a new approach to corrections by making protection of society the primary focus of the Canadian prison system. Today we are taking the next step.”

The ‘today’ she was talking about was 415 days ago. If you think a snail moves slowly, consider the speed our government moves. Comparing the speed of a snail with the speed of our federal government is not unlike comparing a rocket in space with a child’s balloon floating in air.

The current system of Accelerated Parole Review allows criminals convicted of non-violent offenses to obtain parole after serving only one-sixth of their sentence and full parole after serving just one-third. Moreover, parole in such cases is virtually automatic; the National Parole Board is powerless to stop the release of a criminal, even when they believe the criminal will offend again.

This is not acceptable to Canadians. Our government should be taking action so that Canadians are protected from criminals like that bucket of pus, Olsen.

The present Government says that it will respond to concerns raised by victims’ groups and police associations across the country, and to the Correctional Service of Canada’s Independent Review Panel’s recommendations to work towards a system of earned parole.

The government plans to bring in legislation that will mean that if a murderer kills more than one person, he will not only serve his first minimum of twenty-five years in prison, he must also serve his second sentence of life in prison for the 25-years minimum. That means that if he kills two people, he must serve 50 years in prison before he becomes eligible to apply for parole and 75 years in prison if he murders three persons. If he kills four or more people, he obviously will never get out of prison alive.

Unfortunately, this new legislation would only apply to serial killers, mass or multiple murderers after the legislation is passed and becomes law. However, I have every reason to believe that Olsen who murdered eleven children and the murderer who murdered a man and his wife so that he could rape their two young daughters before he murdered them and other multiple murders will never be released from prison because the National Parole Board can still refuse their applications for release from prison.

I realize that keeping these sub-humans in prison is costing the taxpayers a lot of money and executing them would bring financial relief to the taxpayers but look at this issue in another way. These animals are isolated from the rest of the prison inmates and spend on average 23 hours a day in their individual cells. I can’t think of a more miserable method of punishment than forcing these killers to spend fifty years of more years in a prison cell while their brains are rotting away from utter boredom. Executing them would seem to be a merciful release to them.

Years ago when I was invited by the Florida government to visit their maximum security prison in Starke, Florida, I spoke with a man on death row and asked him what he would prefer; execution or natural life in prison. He chose to be executed. He told me that was the reason why he wasn’t appealing his death sentence.

Many years ago before I was pardoned and my record was expunged, I was sent to a reformatory and while I was there, I was in solitary confinement for four months. It was driving me nuts. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would do to me or anyone else who has to spend twenty-five or fifty or more years in solitary confinement. That is what is happening to some of the killers and terrorists that are imprisoned in the United States. Do I really care? Not really when I consider what these killers did to their victims and what the terrorists did or intended to do to their victims.

Aside from the risk of executing an innocent person as being one of my real motives in recommending abolishing capital punishment, rotting in prison for one’s natural life was the kind of punishment I had in mind when I gave my address before the delegates in Caracas in 1980. That kind of retribution is most appropriate for killers who murder more than one victim or a terrorist who has murdered his or her victims or plans to murder many victims.

As to forgiveness, let them seek it from their god; whoever it may be.

No comments: