Safety concerns raised as inmates fail to return to Saint John halfway house
Published Monday, March 11, 2019 9:15PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:42AM ADT
For the fifth time since last summer, police have issued a public warning about a convict at large from a halfway house in Saint John.
The inmates all left the house and failed to return, and that's causing concerns about public safety.
Parrtown Community Correctional Centre is operated by the Correctional Service of Canada. It can house up to 26 federal offenders on conditional release in the community.
Police issued a notice over the weekend, that one of the inmates serving time for armed robbery is now unlawfully at large.
Similar notices were issued last month for three others with similar backgrounds.
Another occurred last summer.
“For us, it's a day-to-day activity now,” said Saint John Police Chief Bruce Connell, who added that it's a federal issue that has become a municipal policing issue.
“Some of the offenders that have been placed there come from other jurisdictions, gone through the federal system, are placed in our community and when they don't follow the rules, then the municipal police force, in this case in Saint John, has to pick that up,” Connell said.
There's been a halfway house in the area for more than 50 years, but rarely have there been this many walk-aways in a relatively short period of time. Some are pointing their finger at recent federal cuts.
There used to be a police officer working inside the facility, but not any longer.
“This is something that's happened over the last five or six years, when the Harper government cut that funding,” said Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long. “That was a major cut that directly impacted the Saint John Police Force. It directly impacted the Parrtown correctional facility.”
Saint John police want the funding restored and Connell has gone to Ottawa to make the case.
“They certainly say they're interested,” he said. “They hear our concerns. There are plans to make things better there, but again, how long can we wait for that to happen?”
All of the escaped inmates have criminal records that include violent assaults and robberies.
One of the inmates who walked away came back on his own.
As for the others, police are warning the public not to approach the escapees, but they asking anyone with information to call the nearest police department.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.