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.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swan needs to eliminate the errors of prisoners being released by mistake

Justice Minister Andrew Swan wants us to believe a few mistakes by justice staffers which led to prisoners being released when they shouldn’t have been, isn’t a crisis or a serious flaw in his department.
Fourteen Manitoba prisoners have been released by mistake since the beginning of 2007, according to statistics obtained by the Opposition Tories and released Monday.
The Conservatives submitted an access to information request to get the numbers from Manitoba Justice which is odd because justice officials said Tuesday the information is public but this was the first time they were asked for them.
Minister Swan emphasized this is a low number, is nothing serious and that we fare better here than in many provinces across the country. He added all of the criminals released by accident were picked up by police and returned to custody without any serious harm being done.
Perhaps but if these mistakes continue, will our luck run out and a serious crime occur?
“I’d like the number to be zero but in a system where we rely so much on people, human error is always a possibility,” Swan said when asked about the miscues.
Before getting too carried away, Swan’s correct that our streets are not teeming with criminals, released in error.
But Swan chalking it up to human error and offering nothing in the way of solid policy to stop it from happening again is a concern for Manitobans.
Do we need more staff then? Why are “occasional miscommunications” occurring? If the system is overstressed and mistakes are being made, what’s his plan to fix it?
Swan’s bragging this is minor but he’s light on fixes for it. He can’t just ignore the problem, cross his fingers and hope nothing happens when one of these thugs is out getting some unexpected fresh air. And so what we have less getting out than other places.
Gee what an honour.
The reality is no prisoner should be released by mistake ever. And when it does happen, the public should be informed right away.
Justice officials here say once it happens, police are notified and they then assess whether the public need to be notified. It all depends on how bad the bad guy is. In neighbouring Saskatchewan a similar policy has been in place since late 2008.
Public notifications are made there if the offender is considered dangerous, whether the criminal escaped by themselves or due to an error by justice staff.
Of course human error will occur.
But isn’t it Swan’s job to eliminate the errors rather than downplay them?

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