Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Infamous killer denied unsupervised community passes

One of Winnipeg's most notorious killers will not be allowed to go on unsupervised "personal development" excursions into the community designed to bolster his chances of getting parole.
Robert Dmytruk, 32, was seeking to be granted unescorted temporary absences from Rockwood Institution, where he is currently serving a life sentence for second-degree murder and the attempted murder of two innocent bystanders in 1996. He is eligible to apply for parole in July 2011 after serving 15 years of his term.
The National Parole Board denied his bid earlier this month, saying such freedoms would pose an "undue risk to society." In parole documents, the board cited Dmytruk's previous gang involvement and track record behind bars, which includes 11 "institutional incidents" in the four years he's been at the minimum-security facility just north of Winnipeg. They also noted the facts of the case, which made headlines across Canada for their random brutality.

Dmytruk shot Eric Vargas to death and wounded his girlfriend, Quyen-Vn Raceles, in the parking lot of Chalmers Community Centre. On the night of the killing, Dmytruk and a co-accused arrived at the club expecting to fight members of a rival gang. When nobody showed up, they turned their weapons on Vargas, 20, and Raceles, 19, who just happened to be sitting in a vehicle having a conversation.

Vargas was an honours student studying economics at the University of Manitoba and vice-president of the Filipino Students Association. Raceles was struck by four bullets that hit her in the shoulder, hip and foot. A quiet, well-liked and talented woman known for her singing, Raceles managed to drive about a block from the shooting before crashing the car into a light standard.
A co-accused was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder, while a third man was acquitted of supplying the gun used in the killing.

Dmytruk was back in the news last summer when a Free Press investigation revealed he had been granted escorted temporary absences (ETAs) from prison beginning in 2008. Sources said the passes were allowing him to visit shopping malls, the public library, a city gym and even get a Slurpee from 7-Eleven. The passes allowed him to leave prison for up to eight hours at a time, provided he was with an approved supervisor.
"It's ridiculous," Manitoba Tory MP Shelly Glover told the Free Press upon learning Dmytruk started getting a taste of freedom almost three full years before his earliest possible release date. She said the federal government plans new legislation that would prevent convicted killers like him from stepping out of prison before they hit their minimum parole eligibility.
Dmytruk was now seeking similar forays into society, but without the confines of anyone watching over him. His case-management team was supporting his application, saying they would "help you prepare for the next step of your gradual release."
"They will also provide you the opportunity to further explore and build on your community contacts, resources and supports in a more independent manner," his supervisor wrote to the board.
Dmytruk will still be allowed escorted temporary absences, which National Parole Board officials have defended as an "integral" part of his eventual reintegration back to society. In 2007/08, 201 requests were made for ETAs in Canada -- with 91 per cent of them being approved, according to federal statistics.
The parole board says the success rate of all types of temporary absences -- escorted and unescorted -- is consistently over 99 per cent. There are no restrictions on when prisoners serving life sentences can apply for an temporary absences, but they must have a "structured and specific" plan that is approved in advance.

In my opinion, he should be allowed to gradually reintegrate into society, before becoming eligible for parole next year and unescorted temporary absences, are the next step. I would like to know if this man was successful when he was on his escorted temporary absences. If no mistakes happened, then I would say that this man should be granted unescorted absences. That new government legislation will only cause more problems, as it would severely limit offenders from gradually reintegrating into society, and that is a very important step in reducing the chances of re-offending when completely released. I would also be curious in knowing if this man has taken any programming while in prison, or any positive steps towards improving himself. This article is a little biased in that respect. The main purpose of prisons are to rehabilitate and reintegrate. This article did not state that at all. Punishment and retribution are the NOT the purposes of prison, but people always seem to forget that or are simply unaware.  I would also like to know more about this man's background life circumstances. Did he have a troubled upbringing? Did he live in poverty? Does he suffer from any mental illnesses?

They really don't elaborate on what they mean by the success rate being consistently over 99% for escorted and unescorted temporary absences. It's my understanding that this service is open to all criminals, not just murderers. Well, less violent offenders are probably going to be more likely to have a "successful" absence than a murderer. So that is a biased statement when comparing it to this case. Also, the absences aren't so much the problem as being paroled is. There generally is a lot tighter restrictions on a temporary absence, and it is for a shorter time period obviously, so the chance and opportunity to commit a crime is less likely. I would like statistics showing how many people who have been paroled have reoffended (and of those who took part in temporary absences). I don't think a violent offender should ever be unescorted on a temporary absence, and certainly a murderer shouldn't be paroled only after 15 years. Nor should they have even gotten such a light sentence in the first place. Of course, the judges and parole board are all bleeding hearts who think criminals walk on water, so as if they would actually have a logical thought pass through their brain.

Temporary absences are an integral part of gradual reintegration into society. Would you rather have a violent offender serve their entire sentence in prison and then be released with no conditions, supervision, assistance or support? Their chances of re-offending would skyrocket! To me, that does not increase public safety. I support reintegration into society, regardless of the person's criminal background. If this man is living in Rockwood Institution, which is a minimum security facility, it means his risk to re-offend is much lower than it used to be.

No "Brittanymaria" many of us would rather have the Death Penalty in Canada because of what some of these animals do. I remember this from back in the 90's and if we had it then, sure, this guy could still be on Death Row from his appeals ad-nauseum as that too would be his right in our far too lenient country.

It's like WOW Brittanymaria, you defend every single one of these types and you post rebuttals to everyone who wants these types to actually BE PUNISHED, maybe you should let them move into the halfway house you most certainly should build. Kindness, tea and cookies and an allowance will change them, they'll be productive members of society and you will then have succeeded. I actually live in the real world and see the need to fix this ongoing problem because there are too many who have absolutely no regard for other human beings and then wish to be let off with little to no punishment.

Not to worry Brittanymaria, you can keep that Liberal Logo, they're out next time 'round, MB might have Conservatives running it too and we the citizens of common sense are sick of the thugs who get away with yep, MURDER. Throw away the key, some of these thugs are just hopeless and a ticking time bomb and their supporters are giving them the match to light it!

The death penalty is cruel, inhumane, uncivilized and completely barbaric! It is the pre-meditated and cold blooded murder performed by the government! How does the government killing a murderer demonstrate to society that killing is wrong? It doesn't! Plus, we as a society should never take the risk of executing an innocent individual! That is much too big of a risk to take! Plus, capital punishment is much more expensive than one spending their life in prison. It also denies the offender the opportunity to improve and rehabilitate themselves. That in itself, is cruel and vengeful. The purpose of our justice system is not that of retribution and punishment, but of rehabilitation and reintegration. If you want punishment, don't live in Canada. 

Neither you nor I know specific details as to why the parole board decided not to allow him unsupervised outings. Being that the parole board in my opinion is generally always too lenient, I assume there's a good reason for their decision here. We also don't know what he has been doing otherwise to better himself, but if I had to speculate I would say it probably would've been reported if he had done anything. But that's just speculation, he may very well be doing something. Regardless, in a sense I agree with you regarding the new government legislation to keep murderers from having temporary absences. I agree that the outings probably help. However, I believe that they shouldn't be let out of prison at all, and that to me is what really needs to change. Just another example of the Conservatives trying to get votes with nothing substantial being done. In terms of him being in a minimum security prison, that really means nothing. The inmates in Canada, or at least in Manitoba, are pretty much shipped to whatever prison has room. So being in a minimum security prison makes no difference.

Yes, I would also be curious to know if he has participated in any programming or attempted to improve himself and how much of a risk he presents to society. You are right about the minimum security prison thing. Prisons nowadays are so overcrowded, that often risk level is not taken into account when considering what facility to place an offender. That needs to change. 

"The purpose of our justice system is not that of retribution and punishment, but of rehabilitation and reintegration. If you want punishment, don't live in Canada."

I disagree. First, the origin of jail had many reasons. Punishment, segregation, fairness, and of course there was the death penalty then. Personally I feel in this day and age we can do better than the death penalty. And although with DNA and such, the chances of an innocent person being convicted of murder is little to none, but still too much of a risk to take, I agree. We have evolved as a society where we do feel for some criminals, we understand mental illness better, and we are more sympathetic. So yes, some criminals we will give the chance to rehabilitate themselves and live in society. However, the majority of Canadians disagree with your views. It may be so that the people in power are extreme Liberals, but the tides are turning Brittany. People are frustrated, and we want actual justice. To us, that means punishment, to teach them what they did was wrong, fairness, to take away from them what they have taken away from others, segregation, to keep dangerous people away from society, and in some cases rehabilitation, to help them be a part of society. But in regards to rapists, pedophiles, and murderers, most of Canada believes they should stay in jail forever. Hopefully in our lifetime it'll be so, I wouldn't be surprised. So you may in fact, be the one who moves one day.

I understand that the majority of Canadians disagree with my views, but everybody is entitled to their own opinions and my beliefs on criminal justice topics are very strong and developed. I will not change to suit the majority of Canadians. I believe that the possibility of rehabilitation should always be considered first and the most emphasis should be placed on this area, along with the protection of the public. I believe that everybody can change and improve themselves, if given the opportunities and assistance to do so, even murderers and sex offenders. I do not believe that sex offenders should be in prisons though, but in a separate facility (like a mental health facility) where the focus is on treating their condition, which is similar to a mental illness, as their brain has chemical deficiencies.  

"The death penalty is cruel, inhumane, uncivilized and completely barbaric! It is the pre-meditated and cold blooded murder performed by the government! How does the government killing a murderer demonstrate to society that killing is wrong? It doesn't! Plus, we as a society should never take the risk of executing an innocent individual! "

Cold blooded murder is cruel, inhumane, uncivilized and completely barbaric. I say that we should treat people like "fairly". I think it would be "fair" that they get the same treatment their victims do. I mean, this would make things equal and fair would it not? As for the risk of executing an innocent individual, capitol punishment should only be used in cases where there is without a doubt that the person convicted actualy did it. Either through key eye witnesses, being caught red handed so to speak, or significant DNA evidence in such cases as rape murder charges. The cost factor could be eliminated if these individuals were simply not allowed to appeal a death penalty conviction. I could go on about the beneifits of capitol punishment, but I will to see what you have to say Brittanymaria, or anyone else who feels otherwise.

The death penalty is never fair. Two wrongs don't make a right. In trials, there can never be 100% absolute guilt. It just doesn't happen. Eyewitnesses can often be mistaken. That is the number one cause of wrongful convictions. Also, DNA is never 100%. It often just shows that the person was at the scene of the crime, but not that they necessarily committed the crime in question. Therefore, we cannot and should not take that risk of executing an innocent person. That is the very reason capital punishment was abolished in Canada, and rightfully so. There are no benefits to capital punishment. It is expensive, barbaric and should not be practiced in civilized societies. When the government executes an innocent individual, that is murder. If you believe murder is wrong, why would you want it to be practiced by our government? Capital punishment also violates basic human rights of the "right to life" and the right "not be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment/punishment." We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. "To take a life when a life has been lost, is revenge, not justice." Revenge should have no place in modern day criminal justice systems. Capital punishment is the most brutal method of revenge.  

-and like others have stated, you never hear about when they screwed up while on a T/A and for the many who are stuck in prison and staying longer, it wouldn't be possible to show the stats as it's probably mind-boggling. Yes Brittanymaria, it would be nice to re-hab everyone but they're perfect little angels even in the max. security and eventually someone has to be put in min. security if there is room. It's the lesser of 2 evils but still evils either way.

Brittanymaria, do YOU just pick and choose what you read anyway? This guy HAS been in trouble while incarcerated, he WAS in a gang prior to getting caught, what about those chances he WOULD have got each time he got pinched before or was he just lucky to not getting caught but then when he decided to execute someone, was unlucky to get caught then? Ironic isn't it, that in print they describe this guy exactly as the NPB saw him. Sure, he's getting tired of being around other habitual criminals and we should let him loose on society but will you return to stick up for that society if he possibly harms another or will you just refrain from commenting at all? I guarantee the latter as you wouldn't even think of admitting you're wrong and that WOULD be exactly what the Liberals have always been about-their cr*p don't stink and they tell you what you're smelling is success and good for the law-abiding majority.

I can admit that I am wrong. Everybody makes mistakes.

As for people like this being "rehabilitated". The risk of them re-offending will never be zero. Even a one in a million chance is too much in my eyes.

If your intention is to become a defense lawyer, then I will wait to see the day that someone you get off easy, kills again. Seems to me that this is what it will take for you to realize that a significant proportion of people like this will always be like this.

If someone can do such horrible things to other human beings, then they expect that the same horrible things can happen to them, and they should get exactly what they gave their victims. This soft country and soft people like you show no respect to the victims and their families.

You show alot of compassion and enthusiam in your posts, it's just too bad it's for the wrong side.

Unfortunately, the risk of re-offending will never be zero, but we cannot continue to keep those individuals imprisoned who pose a very minimal risk to the public. That is cruel and harsh. We need to gradually reintegrate offenders into society. I believe in second chances and I believe that people can change, if given the opportunity, assistance and support to do so. We need to help criminals improve themselves and to find the cause of their offending. I have compassion and sympathy for victims of crime as well, but I also have sympathy for the marginalized and often socially disadvantaged criminals, who need help. 

I respect your opinion regarding the death penalty, I just feel like we can do a little better than that in 2010. I think a little compassion is necessary. Life in prison for rapists, murderers, and pedophiles sounds good to me, and I have no problem paying taxes for it. And to be honest, death is an easy way out. Life in prison really makes them suffer. It just sounds nicer than the "death penalty".

Brittanymaria- You think sex offenders can be rehabilitated? Then you know nothing about psychology, even though you claim to. There is something wrong with their brain, and no known medication to fix it. Therapy can only do so much. Urges from a sex offender's brain NEVER go away. I really really hope you never get raped, I would never wish that on anyone. But if you ever did experience that, I guarantee you would not want that person free ever again. If you did want them to be rehabilitated and walking amongst you and your children...perhaps you belong in a mental institution. I'm not trying to be mean at all, but you seem to be lacking many human emotions. It's okay to be vengeful, humans aren't nice creatures, that doesn't mean we can't try, but you can only fight nature so much.

I don't think being a defense lawyer is right for you. You seem to be compassionate, so perhaps a youth centre, or addiction counselling, or something that helps prevent the crime is where you need to be. Simply freeing them and hoping for the best, even with services for them, won't work.

I agree regarding the death penalty. This is 2010, not 1800. We are much more civilized and should realize that capital punishment is inhumane and barbaric.

Yes, I do believe sex offenders can be helped to manage their impulses. They cannot be cured, but through effective programming, their "illness" can be managed and controlled. I never said they could be cured. If I ever was the victim of a sexual assault, I would rather have the offender receiving treatment in a facility, than sitting in prison surrounded by negative influences and a negative environment. Those are just my beliefs. I have compassion for sex offenders especially, because I have known some, as family members. I know how difficult it is for them to change, but it is possible. I do have emotions of revenge, but my logic and reason always overrides those primitive emotions. 

Eleven "institutional incidents" in four years is good enough for me to agree he shouldn't be allowed out without a minder. Even that bothers me. Let his gradual "reintegration" begin once he's past his earliest parole eligibility date...but only if he has had zero "institutional incidents" in a couple of years.

Gotta love how these people assume he's automatically going to be reintegrating to society. They should wait until he proves he's changed his ways before making that leap. No rubberstamping parole, please.

"Also, DNA is never 100%."

This is what I said:
"DNA evidence in such cases as rape murder charges"

When you find semen, that is significant enough for me. I did not say rape or murder, I said rape murder, as in both at same time.

"Capital punishment also violates basic human rights of the "right to life" and the right "not be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment/punishment"

So victims don't get these rights, but the person who committed such atrocities does?

Don't get me wrong. Capitol Punishment is not always applicable, just in situations where it is 100% certain that the offender is guilty, would it be applicable. As I just said, you can't argue with semen evidence in a rape and murder case. Also when people are caught in the act in the same manner as Vince Li (althought not applicable to him due to mental illness), you can't argue that a person found in a similar situation "might" not be guilty.

I do agree though, that the cost for Capitol Punishment is 4 times higher than keeping someone in prison for 25 years. This is why (in certain cases like I just described) if we did have Capitol Punishment, there should be no way to appeal such a decision.

If people want to be treated humanely, then they should pass that same treatment onto others. To cry about your "rights" after you have done such things is absurd.

I know full well that Capitol Punishment will never be reinstated. There should be a seperate facilty for individuals such as this one, where they are stripped of their rights, and punished properly. The slap on the wrist punishments they get now are rediculous.

Everybody is entitled to their rights. Victims had those rights before they passed away, but unfortunately they were taken from them. But two wrongs don't make a right. Capital punishment is murder. If you disagree with murder, I am not sure why you advocate for the death penalty because it is the same thing. The only difference, is that the government instead of an individual citizen, is killing somebody else. You are implying that all crime is rational. It is not. The majority of criminals are impulsive in their actions and do not consider the consequences of their actions or the possibility of prison.

Brittanymaria- I don't like how you use the word "primitive" to describe human emotions. I'm glad to hear you have them, and good for you for overcoming them. However, that doesn't make you better than everyone else. You may not be saying that, but that's how you come across. The way you've scolded commenters here before, such as in the Earl Giesbrecht case. Multiple commenters shared their experiences, many of them were even quite diplomatic about it. Yet you called them barbaric and vengeful. That's disrespectful to them, and not very compassionate as to what they have gone through. I feel as though you have a misguided representation of compassion. You feel for these "socially disadvantaged" criminals, yet you really don't understand what the victims are going through. You say you do, but you show no compassion towards them, their feelings, or the value of their opinions and experiences. The only words of compassion I have ever read from you are always directed at the criminal. You only say "I feel for the victims too", and that's it. It's easy to say,it's not that much harder to show it, yet you don't show it. So you seem to feel for those who have problems because of being socially disadvantaged, or having mental issues,yet you do not understand how the basic human brain works. Humans can show compassion, yes,but not often towards those who have wronged us our others, and certainly not to the degree of murder. You need to understand the basics first.

I am very compassionate towards victims of crime but also offenders. I said their desire for revenge, was vengeful and unacceptable. I have the desire to support and assist criminals in their rehabilitation and reintegration. That is what I am studying to do. I believe in seeing the good in everybody and loving and forgiving others, no matter what they have done. 

"you can't argue with semen evidence in a rape and murder case."

What about a situation where the accused legitimately had consensual sex with a woman who is later raped and murdered by someone else? Eyewitnesses can be mistaken or can lie, scientific evidence can be botched or tampered with, etc., etc. We've seen so many convicted "murderers" exonerated years later because of these things and that's a terrible injustice in itself, never mind finding out a mistake was made after someone has been put to death.

I'll never forget the Thomas Sophonow case. I was following the trial news in the paper. I was flabbergasted when he was unable to put on the glove that the killer supposedly wore yet he was still convicted! There were other things too but that's the one that stood out for me. (Shades of the future O.J. Simpson trial with the opposite outcome!) That and the Milgaard case convinced me that capital punishment should never be allowed.

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