Inmates express concerns about the type of offenders at Burnside halfway house
The weekend escape of a high-risk sex offender from a Dartmouth halfway house leaves some people asking why he was staying in a low-security facility.
He got away only two days after arriving at the house and was quickly recaptured.
Even some other inmates aren't happy about some of the other convicts being moved in to The Jamieson Community Correctional Centre in Burnside.
William West is an inmate there and says he's serving time for bank robbery.
When he heard a high-risk sex offender had escaped from the facility Sunday, he made a quick phone-call.
“My daughter and granddaughter live not far from here, so I alerted them,” West said.
The focus of all the concern was 35-year-old Joshua James Turner, who is wrapping up a lengthy sentence for a violent, sexual attack on two women at a dental office in Winnipeg.
A veteran reporter who covered the trial says the incident was shocking, partly because it seemed entirely random.
“The women didn't know him. He didn't know the women,” said Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press. “He just went in there and did this, and it wasn't really the first time he'd done something similar to this, that he's terrorized other women in the past out here.”
Parole documents reveal a lengthy list of offences, many of them sexual in nature.
Over the years, police in Winnipeg had alerted the public at least three times that Turner was “unlawfully at large.”
He was designated a “long-term offender,” and after Turner served his latest sentence, he was ordered to spend six months in a designated facility, like the Jamieson Community Correctional Centre.
Legal experts say halfway houses play an important role in the justice system, but public safety is also a factor.
“One would think there should be a match between the risk level of the offender and the facility, so you would think that a person who was a high risk to re-offend would also be retained in a high-risk facility,” said Wayne MacKay, a constitutional law expert and professor emeritus at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.
For its part, Corrections Canada insists public safety is a top priority, and it works with police and other agencies to make sure it happens.
Some area businesses tell CTV News they were assured the facility would house “low-risk inmates” when it opened almost two years ago, but at least one now says he's ordered staff to start locking the back door in the evenings.
West says, as far as he's observed, the worst of the inmates seem to be coming from out West.
“If they belong out there in the Pacific or central region, then that's where they should stay,” he said.
At this point, Turner hasn't been charged in connection with the latest escape, but sources say that's pretty much inevitable.
Turner was already facing a lengthy list of restrictions when he was moved to the Jamieson Centre.
He was also facing a number of conditions, such as not being allowed to consume alcohol and drugs. He also had to report any relationships with females to his parole supervisor.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.