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 18, 2010

Teen killer, now a model inmate, has been granted escorted temporary absences

ROCKWOOD INSTITUTION -- Earl Giesbrecht has spent the past 20 years in prison after committing one of Manitoba's most notorious crimes. Curtis Klassen, 15, died after being tied up and having his throat slashed. Tyler Pelke, 14, survived being stabbed, sexually assaulted and set on fire.

Giesbrecht was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder for the November 1990 attacks in Altona. Although he was just 17, he was given an adult sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Months later, the law was changed so killers under the age of 18 would be eligible for parole in 10 years.
On Thursday, Giesbrecht, 37, appeared before the National Parole Board. He's applied for escorted temporary absences from Rockwood Institution where he has lived since 2007. A nod from the board would grant him brief trips into the community under strict supervision and conditions.
The Free Press was granted observer status for the hearing.

Tyler Pelke is sitting just a few feet from the man who tried to end his life. Yet, the 34-year-old firefighter shows remarkable poise as he reads his statement, explaining to parole officials why his would-be killer should never be allowed out of prison.
"Time hasn't healed all scars," Pelke begins. He describes in graphic detail how his throat was slit "within a dime of my jugular," his heart stopped briefly, he suffered severe burns to 25 per cent of his body and needed more than 200 stitches for his wounds.
Pelke recently moved to Alberta but flew back to Manitoba to appear at the hearing. He wants it known he isn't afraid of Earl Giesbrecht. Pelke visited Giesbrecht in prison five years ago to offer forgiveness, which was part of his healing process.
"I've been dead once and I'm not going to live my life slowly dying because I fear Earl coming after me. But forgiveness is not absolution. Curtis does not come back to life because Earl has been forgiven any more than the scars on my throat and chest disappear," he says. "The crimes were severe enough to warrant a life sentence. A life sentence was given and, as such, should be served."
-- -- --

Pelke's mother, Robin Doerksen, is still wracked with guilt. Why had she thought it was a good idea to move to Altona only six weeks before the attack? Why, she often thinks, had she chased a career opportunity, landing her dream job there? Why had she gone away that weekend and left Tyler at home?
Doerksen is in tears as she explains her daily torment, how Giesbrecht's crime left her "angry to the point of rage." She suffered a nervous breakdown, quit her job and still endures post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I became a different person. That is too bad because I really liked the person I was before this happened," she weeps.
-- -- --

Ian Fowler and Craig Allen are two of Canada's 80 or so parole board members. They pepper Giesbrecht with questions for more than an hour: What was going on in your life the night of the attacks? Why the extreme violence? How do you think this has affected the Klassen and Pelke families? What have you learned in prison? Why should we believe anything you say?
Fowler and Allen have read extensive reports by Giesbrecht's parole officer and other members of his treatment team who support his bid for escorted temporary absence. They know he is a model inmate. They know he has participated in restorative justice meetings and completed extensive programming, including sexual-offender treatment. They know he has upgraded his education, earning degrees in business administration and human resources.

"This is the first step in a gradual release from prison for him. He needs to learn what it's like to live in the community again," Giesbrecht's parole officer says.
Giesbrecht, a broad-shouldered, muscular man, doesn't duck questions. Father Bernard Pinet, a prison chaplain who has worked with him over the past 20 years, sits beside him for support. Pinet believes Giesbrecht is ready for the next step.

-- -- --

"I wasn't dealing with the anger as it was building up," Giesbrecht begins. He'd struggled with his sexuality for years and was often tormented for being gay. The final straw came when Pelke and Klassen made a disparaging comment to him at a school dance.
"Looking back, it was harmless. But I saw it as one more time I was being teased," Giesbrecht tells the parole board. "When I look back, Curtis and Tyler were representative of everyone who'd ever mistreated me."
Later that night, after having "revenge fantasies," he sneaked over to Pelke's house with a .357 Magnum and pointed it at the teens. He taped their arms together and eyes shut and put them in different rooms. Giesbrecht tried to strangle Klassen, but the cord broke. He got a knife and slashed his throat, letting him bleed to death. Giesbrecht repeatedly sexually assaulted Pelke before slashing his throat. (The Free Press usually withholds the names of sex-assault victims but Pelke, who speaks publicly about being a survivor, chooses not to be anonymous.)
"I wanted him to feel as humiliated and degraded as I had," Giesbrecht tells the parole board. He soaked a blanket with gasoline, placed it on Pelke and set it on fire. He set several other fires in the house before fleeing. He went home, showered and disposed of his bloody clothes.
"I woke up the next day and remember thinking that I hope this was just a bad dream," he says. Giesbrecht said he knows he has destroyed both families -- and he is stunned Pelke and his mother forgive him.
"That has changed my life profoundly. I don't think I would be able to do that," he says. He apologizes to his own family, who have faced repeated threats and vandalism. Giesbrecht says he's learned to manage his anger and to communicate when he has a problem. He says he's scared about returning to society. But the goal is to slowly reintegrate him into society in preparation for the time, five years from now, when he is eligible for parole.
"I know this will be a slow process. The reality is, release for me is going to be measured in many, many years," Giesbrecht says.
-- -- --

It takes a mere 15-minute adjournment for the parole board to decide. Earl Giesbrecht will get his first taste of freedom since 1990.
Noticeably absent from the decision is Pelke, who didn't return to the room after the short break.
"We believe you have quite a strong level of insight. You've done an awful lot of work in the years you've been here to address those risk factors," Fowler tells Giesbrecht.
The board rules Giesbrecht can begin with one escorted temporary absence a month -- no longer than eight hours -- to visit family. The first two absences can be only be to see loved ones at their homes. He is not allowed to go near Altona. Future meetings could include restaurants. He is also barred from having contact with the Pelke or Klassen families. Giesbrecht will be accompanied at all times by a correctional officer and a supporter, such as Father Bernard. He will not be shackled. The initial order will be reviewed in six months, when it could be expanded.
The hearing is closed.

As a 17 year old, I completely disagree with the adult sentence this man was given of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years. I do not believe in lengthy sentences, especially for teens. Longer prison sentences have been proven to increase the chances of re-offending because of the negative prison environment, influences and subculture and decrease the likelihood of successful reintegration because the offender becomes dependent, institutionalized, is released with little assistance, rehabilitation or support. Teens should receive shorter sentences and the main emphasis should be rehabilitation and reintegration.

I am glad that he is living in Rockwood, instead of Stony though. A minimum security prison is much better than a medium security one. I am also glad that he was granted escorted temporary absences. Clearly, the parole board considered public safety and concluded that it would be safe to allow him this right. I completely support gradual release into the community and ETA's are the first step. This will help towards successful reintegration. 

I do not agree with Pelke's argument that this man should never be allowed out of prison. That is too harsh and would actually cause more problems in the long term. If the accused served his entire sentence in prison and then was released on his warrant expiry date, he would be released with no conditions, supervision, assistance or support. That would be more dangerous in my opinion, and would greatly increase his chances of re-offending.

I am really glad to see that this killer has participated in extensive programming, restorative justice meetings and has upgraded his education. Education greatly decreases the chances of re-offending upon release, as he is more likely to find meaningful employment. He has also learned to manage his anger and how to communicate effectively. I believe he has the right to be allowed on escorted absences to see family. I believe he has gained a lot of insight into why he committed those horrific acts and has worked towards lessening those risk factors which led to his criminal behaviour.

For those of you who disagree with this decision, you are only after revenge! Here in Canada, we treat our prisoners in a relatively civilized manner, by allowing them to gradually reintegrate into society. This man has been working hard to improve himself and deserves to have escorted absences. If you aren't interested in human rights or humane treatment, maybe you should move to China, or some third world country. I am sure you would just LOVE it there, where nobody has rights! 

To those who think this man is being paroled, you are greatly mistaken. Do you have any knowledge about the justice system?! He is only receiving ESCORTED temporary absences! Key words being escorted and temporary. This is only fair. There is no reason to deny this man ETA's, as he has worked hard to improve himself. If you support the denial of ETA's, you are only advocating for revenge, not justice. Learn the difference, because there is one. Justice means fairness. It is fair that we gradually reintegrate this man into society. If you don't like it, maybe you shouldn't be living in Canada! Oh, and then don't be complaining about "taxpayer's money" when you realize that YOU are helping to pay for this man's stay in prison. 

"JC: I believe cases like this one warrant capital punishment."

That is a shame, because a case like this is quite the opposite of the need for the death penalty. A quick review of the facts in this story shows that Earl had a history of being tormented and bullied. We all have seen the consequences of what bullying does to kids. While these two did not do the same bullying, the psychological trauma was already there and as he said "He snapped".
He felt remorse after he had committed the crime.
He has completed all rehabilitation that they have asked him to complete and has also completed his education.

This seems to be the prison/rehab system working. This was not a serial killer or career criminal violent offender.

I think he should get freedom, it seems he understands why he did it and I think he deserves a shot at freedom.

Just a point of clarification here. A life sentence does not necessarily mean life in prison. It means that after the custodial sentence imposed by the judge is carried out, if that person is eligible, they can gain parole. This parole is for life. For the rest of the offender's natural life they will have to check in with the parole board and follow strict conditions, or they will be remanded back into custody. No travelling, no alcohol, and a host of other conditions. The leash is kept quite tight.

Sounds like he's made better choices since he's been inside, good for him if he can get a chance to get reacquainted with the outside world before he gets released that should be very beneficial, a person can become very institutionalized in 20 years.

Shame on most of you. Little or no compassion. Absolutely the act of violence carried out 20 years ago was monstrous. Without a doubt it destroyed many people for no good reason. Yes the Giesbrecht family are victims too, people give your heads a shake. The parents lost their son as well, they didnt deserve that. just because he committed a vicious crime doesnt mean they deserve to suffer the loss of their son. And imagine what must have been going on in Giesbrecht mind when he did this, no sane healthy happy person does this. Imagine yourself feeling that same pain and thinking those actions were your only option. Giesbrecht was someones baby, grandchild, life. So were all the boys involved and it was tragic for everyone im sure.

It sounds like anyone who knew the "real" Earl Giesbrecht doesn't agree with him being bullied but that it was in fact the exact opposite. Having been involved in proceedings with a sociopath in the court systems that even fooled the court appointed psychologist, I have no faith in our legal system to properly assess individuals. Do a little research on how many murders are committed by individuals out on parole or released with "insufficient" evidence and you will see how half of our violent crime in Manitoba could have been prevented.

I know Tyler personally and he is a shining example of how someone can overcome great adversity that would ruin most people and go on to do anything he wants in this life. All the best Tyler... and Earl, I don't have forgiveness for those like you, hopefully someone finds you in the shower in the next five years before you have a chance to mar society again with your presence.

Take it from someone that knew Earl Giesbrecht well, he was never a victim.

Earl Giesbrecht never did anything on impulse. He is/was a cold calculated individual that planned everything to the nth degree. Whether it was a break-and-enter, bullying another student, or laying the ground-work for a brutal murder...he covered all of the details. Now he is using that same tactics to convince our liberal parole board to release him.

Earl terrorized the people of Altona for 10 years before he committed his 'well-planned' but poorly executed attack on Tyler and Curtis. His legacy has continued to terrorize hundreds of victims for 20 years since. Now he will again terrorize on another level with his 'gradual' release.

Earl, I know you are gaily reading all of these posts. If you had an ounce of decency in your body you would stay in prison and pay for your past until the day you die. Better yet, you could remove the shadow you cast over everyone by ending things sooner yourself.

Brittanymaria...no wonder the liberal party is a laughing stock with people like you involved. The conservatives are at least taking a stand against these types of animals...life is life (no matter what the cost).

No matter what the Restoritive Justice people have been fooled into thinking...he is a psychopath and will hurt someone again. Damned be the people that allow him to do it!

Earl...be a man and save us all the trouble!

"Without having read all the documents on this guy, there does seem SOME risk he is a psychopath. But we shouldn't assume the parole board overlooked this possibility or was "charmed" into making their decision."

That would be my main concern, too. Psychopaths, even though they are prolific and believable liars, don't have any emotional depth. Sure, they can fake that to a point but something rang true to me when Giesbrecht described how the forgiveness he received from Tyler and his mother left him feeling surprised and humbled.

I am quite sure that all the trained staff he's dealt with over the years have seen more than their fair share of psychopaths and I trust that they are capable of identifying which inmates are and which aren't. I'm still glad that they are proceeding very cautiously with Giesbrecht's first taste of freedom.

I don't even know where to begin except to say that unless you knew Earl and grew up with him, you really have no idea what kind of a person he is or wether he is capable of change!! I happen to know Earl personally in fact I was one who testified at his trial what seems like many years ago to most of you but to me seems like just yesterday. There is NO way that he should be allowed any kind of freedom AT ALL!!! Curtis is no longer with us and Tyler will always have to live with what happened to him...ALWAYS...so Earl then should ALWAYS have to pay for his crime which means in prison until the day he dies!!! I do agree that Earls family is a victim in the way that yes they lost their son to prison BUT they can still see him, talk to him, touch him....what about Curtis??? Do his family/friends get to do the same???? I struggle to understand how the parole board can grant this kind of freedom and after only 15 minutes to have made a decision??? I to was once fooled by Earl in thinking that he was a decent person, only to have personal experience as to what kind of a monster he actually was!!! So who is to say that he is not fooling those on the parole board??
I will never ever accept the fact that he deserves any kind of freedom!! We all lost a bit of freedom after this horrific crime was committed...we no longer felt safe to walk the streets...to trust...
Earl belongs in jail for life...end of story!!!

Please don't let this Free Press Article make you beleive that Earl Giesbrecht was bullied.
He was THE Bully. He bullied a lot of people and scared a lot of people for years leading up this horrific night.
He may have felt alienated or alone etc. but that is because nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. People (especially, people around his age) were afraid of him.

It was cold blooded premeditated murder.
It's unfortunate Canadian law doesn't give consecutive sentences because he committed many crimes & should never be free again.

Tyler Pelke has done admirable things with forgiveness & I respect that but even he feels Giesbrecht should not be given these passes. Pelke seems like someone not out for revenge but wants to see justice done to the extent allowed by the liberal laws in place.

I agree that the viciousness of the crime makes this a difficult case. Emotionally, any one of would be inclined to say Giesbrecht should never be let out and even should have been executed.

But the parole board has to decide within the context of parole criteria: his remorse, his youth at the time of the crime, his good behaviour and achievements in custody (which were not "easy," especially given his crime and his apparent issues), and the bullying he apparently endured, and the fact he will be eligible for full parole in five years. He probably is a good candidate for early restricted freedom and, statistically, unlikely to re-offend.

Without having read all the documents on this guy, there does seem SOME risk he is a psychopath. But we shouldn't assume the parole board overlooked this possibility or was "charmed" into making their decision.

Unless you just give mandatory sentences (which have their own problems) to everyone for every crime and start executing people at will, "clamping down" on criminals still comes down to human beings making decisions based on the evidence, whether they're judges, juries or parole boards.

There seems a reasonable basis to say this was a good call.

"Why can't we, as Canadians, understand that life means life. The average life span of a Canadian male is, I believe, about 74 years. How is it possible that our judicial system determines life to be 25 years. We are the sappiest, bleeding heart country on earth."

We really aren't. In fact, if you actually check out what "life imprisonment" means in most countries, you'd see that Canada's approach to a life sentence is pretty much exactly on par with everyone else, including the United States and likely any other country you think is less "sappy" and "bleeding heart" than we are. Quite a number of developed nations don't even have "life imprisonment," which we do have and which Giesbrecht received; we can issue life imprisonment for a much wider array of crimes than many other countries; we don't have a maximum sentence length.

Don't take my word for it, look for yourself -- all you need is a bit of Wikipedia. It even has produced a nice table for easy comparison, and might be a good idea to browse for future reference should you wish to make definitive statements comparing Canada's justice system to others.

Giesbrecht was NOT bullied growing up. In fact he grew up bullying everyone around him. He has a long list of "incidents" associated with his name. The fact that Giesbrecht said that Klassen and Pelke said that he was gay doesn't mean it is true. He may have thought he heard some kids saying that he was gay etc. but to go off in the way that he did? Please. This was 100% pre-meditated cold bolded murder. A henious act in every way!
I agree that it's too bad that the system in Canada does not actually mean life. Reality is that Giesbrecht is going to be eligible for parole for a few years and may be granted it. I know that parole means on parole for the rest of his life but it's tough to stomach hearing that a parole board only needed 15 min. to decide that they would grant him some temporary leave of absences. 15 min.? It's also tough to stomach the fact that the Parole Board has made many a bad judgement call in the past. I agree with a previous poster that our nations justice system is very weak, lenient and clearly flawed.

Yes I did know Earl. I lived on the block where it happened, and went to school with the guys. I used to get bullied by Earl on the bus going to school. It was scary sitting near him, he was the scariest guy on the bus. I didn't like meeting him in town either, I would get scared and walk away. This is what I remember. I agree that Earl was not the victim portrayed in this article.

Do you think everyone can be rehabilitated? Well I already know the answer to that, but you're wrong. Prison does help some to rehabilitate, as this man appears to have. But I say APPEARS to have. After reading all the comments from those who knew him, I will listen to them. People can improve themselves, but they can't change. That's not being pessimistic, that's being realistic. If they've had a couple issues, maybe not the best upbringing, or just always led a life of crime, then being a criminal is more just what they're used to, and it may be easier to turn their life around. But someone like what Earl appears to be, is someone who actually is messed up in the head. Brittney, it would do you wonders of good to LISTEN once in a while. You are a broken record. Listen to those who have first hand experience with this guy. And being that he will be eligible for parole in 5 years, it's reasonable to be talking about that now.I think it's insulting that you are implying that those who knew Earl are just cold-hearted, mean spirited people out for revenge. No, they KNEW him. One of his victims, who actually FORGAVE him, still feels he should be locked up.We've seen many examples of the parole board letting people out who just commit again, so I would trust those who knew him over bleeding-hearts like you who have no respect for the real victims.

im more afraid of most of these commentators than i am of Giesbrecht. living in a community so full of revengeful thoughts, puts them in the same head space Giesbrecht was the night he committed thoughs crimes. thats SCARY. at least he has worked 20 years through his issues, how about all of you who advocate killing another human being (thats what capital punishment is) do you all teach your kids that 2 wrongs make a right?

Nope, two wrongs don't make a right and that is a good possibility of what will happen when this man gets out of prison. A second wrong (letting him out) which hopefully does not turn into another life lost. Please think again about speculating and providing your opinion in situations you are not familiar with. You did not experience this man, you were not bullied by him, you did not watch friends tormented by him, you did not have your friend killed by him.

I truly am sorry he ended up where he is ... had he not we would still have our friend, we would not have lived and replayed that fateful night over and over again, we would not have spent days with counselors, news reporters, and we would not have had nightmares. I wish he had received the help he deserved. The unfortunate part of this incident is that it was too late ... he snapped and I can never trust this man again. I would be terrified to see him on the street near my children and had you experienced the years prior to this incident as we had ... I strongly believe you too would feel the same.

Let the victims continue to move on with their lives. They do not need to relive this over and over again as he moves closer to freedom ... let them heal, let them live. This man forever changed a community. No man should be given the right or opportunity to do that again!

Once a sentence is given - KEEP IT! A person who does what Earl has done should not be allowed any temporary passes, no matter what! No one and I mean NO ONE can say that he will be safe in our society. This business of having a parole board is a joke. I don't care how long someone has served a sentence being allowed out before the sentence is complete is still getting off with their wrist being gently slapped. Why is it that everyone gets sooo concerned over the criminal?? Come on really - what right do they have in getting our sympathy. As far as I'm concerned the moment Earl decided to take a man's life and almost another man's life - lost that right!

Here's a story for you. A family member of mine - driving one day to the mall for a planned day of pampering. Sitting at a stop light she gets this disturbing surprise with a strange man jumping into her truck. He took her and strangled her to death where she was left to be found in a ditch 1 mile from the stop light. This Man was let out of jail for 1 day with a security escort for his birthday because he was "so welled behaved in jail and truely deserved a chance everyone said". Now look it - a innocent victim gone. Can you honestly say that Earl is "so welled behaved and deserves a chance". Please - give me a break people!

Earl recieved a sentence - He needs to serve it fully - remember the reason why??? HE MURDERED A BOY AND TRIED TO KILLED ANOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!

The people who have first hand accounts with Earl, it appears are still only seeking revenge against him. Ever heard the saying, two wrongs don't make a right? I could not think of a better candidate to be allowed on escorted temporary absences, than this man. He has worked towards improving himself and I believe that people can and do change, but we need to give them the opportunity. You people are speaking like he is being released on parole... he is NOT! This is an ESCORTED and TEMPORARY absence. It is crucial that offenders be gradually reintegrated into society, as opposed to just released on their warrant expiry date!

To those who think Earl is a psychopath or a sociopath... I am not sure where you picked that idea from.. must have been from thin air! I have not read anywhere that he was diagnosed with psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder.. Yes, those are both mental disorders. You cannot just label anyone who commits murder as a psychopath/sociopath!

And why should we give criminals ETA's? Well, would you rather have them serve their entire sentence in prison and then have them released into society with NO supervision, assistance or conditions? Being in prison for 25 years, makes one institutionalized. You do not know how to function in society without some assistance! Therefore, Earl's chances of re-offending would increase substantially and his chances of reintegrating into society, would significantly decrease. I don't know about you.. but I do not want this to happen! People who work hard, deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. This describes Earl. Are you the same people who are advocating for "earned parole"? If so, this is very similar to earned parole! Earl has worked hard and deserves to be released once a month on temporary absences.

I agree with Bronwyn. I am much more fearful of living in a society with such vengeful people, such as you commenters, than I would be living with the offender in this story! Grow up and learn to have some sympathy or compassion! How cold-hearted! Shame on you all.

Yes I do believe that the majority of individuals can be rehabilitated. I have a positive outlook on human nature and believe that we are all born inherently good. People can and do change, but we need to give them that opportunity and the assistance to do. People with antisocial personality disorder can never be cured, but they can learn risk management and many other useful skills towards managing their illness through various programming.

"as much as you are right in suggesting that a cold-turkey release from prison is bad for prisoners, and as much as I agree that people should have a shot at redemption, I'm troubled by your assertion that EG has 'earned' this ETA.

In my books, he earns it when he accepts responsibility for what he did, and that stops with him portraying himself as a victim. [edited] He earns it when he displays true remorse, not faux remorse covered in a sugar-coating of passing blame."

From my understanding, this offender DID accept responsibility and express remorse. This man has completed all programming available to him and has attempted to improve himself in many aspects. Like I said earlier, people who work hard to improve themselves, deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. This man is a perfect candidate for a temporary absence. It's not like we are allowing him parole! This is reasonable, fair and appropriate! Here is Canada, we value gradual reintegration into society because we know that it has been proven in research to be more effective than a cold turkey release. 

"Whether or not a person gets rehabilitated, they will never bring back the person they killed. The victim's family will never see their loved one again. So rehabilitation in the case of a killer [edited] should be for them to be able to live with themself. Think about it, even if a killer [edited] gets rehabilitated (and I do believe in some cases it's possible) how do you think that would make the victim's family feel? They already live their life in hell because they lost a loved one, now the person who caused it gets the luxury of life that their loved one will never get? Imagine the terror and pain they will feel every day that killer [edited] is free. Rehabilitated or not, they will always be a killer [edited], just as an alcoholic is always an addict. When deciding the outcome of a killer [edited], one side will always be let down. If he/she is free, then the victim's family will live in undescribable pain, and the killer [edited] will be happy. Or vice versa, where the killer [edited] is kept locked away, and they will be unhappy, whereas the victim's family will be happy (or as happy as they can be never getting their loved one back). So in a perfect world we could make both sides happy, but we can't, and there comes a point where we have to choose which side is more important. It should always be the family of the victim that is more important, always. Do you understand what I'm saying? It's not vengeful, it's reality. That's compassion."

You are right, the person who is killed can never be brought back and that is a sad reality. I have sympathy for the victims' families and cannot even imagine how it feels to lose a loved one, by such a horrific method. I strongly support and believe in rehabilitation and the fact that given the opportunity, support and assistance, most people can and do change. If I were the victim, I would WANT this man to be rehabilitated. I do not seek revenge, unlike many posters on this forum. I would not want somebody else to suffer, and for the offender's family to also suffer. That would not provide me with peace of mind or healing. I commend the one victim for forgiving this offender for his actions and for participating in restorative justice. I disagree with you, this man will not ALWAYS be a killer. Yes, he did kill somebody, but he can change. We should not label him for the rest of his life as that is stigmatizing and can cause even more harm. Research the labeling theory. The side of the victim should not be the most important, because most times their opinion regarding sentencing, etc. only involves revenge, which is unjustified. We do not need a justice system based on revenge. We need to help offenders and address the root causes of their criminal behaviour, so they can someday become productive members of society. That is why our justice system isn't based on the victim's side. They are vengeful, irrational, illogical and unreasonable most times. 

"There is no in between, in a situation where the parole board is deciding whether a murderer be released, it is one side over the other. If it were possible to make both sides happy, I'd be all for it, but it's just not possible. So the parole board HAS to choose one side over the other, and being that they have to, they should choose the victim's side. Why? Because the victims are the ones going through all the pain. Yes, I think that the victims shouldn't choose the sentence because it should be looked at somewhat objectively, however, their opinion should still be taken into account. If the victim's side is not chosen, the murderers side is, and that's not right. Although I do feel for the families of the killers, and the killers who may have changed their life around, life isn't fair. We can't make it happy for everyone. To me that's not vengeful. That's fair, and that's reality. Personally I'm all for these supervised outings, because apparently he has reformed, but this is where it should stop. I don't know if you've made many mistakes in your life, Brittney, but they never leave you. Even if you become a better person because of it, even if those you hurt get over it, those mistakes make you who you are. Both good and bad. I understand the dangers of labeling people, but I also understand the dangers of forgetting who people really are. Rehabilitation should be a goal, but not the only goal."

No they should not choose the victims' side, b/c most victims are only seeking revenge, not justice. Justice is fair and appropriate. Gradual reintegration into society is fair and appropriate. Most victims are not thinking/acting rationally, reasonably or logically. Our justice system must always focus on what decision would be in society's best interests, not the victims'. It is in society's best interests that we allow gradual release into the community as it has proven to reduce the rate of re-offending. We should do what will best assist the offender in rehabilitation and reintegration. Allowing this man to have temporary absences to see his family, is in society's best interests, to build and strengthen a network of support and communication for when he is released into the community on parole. Someday, if this man continues to work on improving himself and managing his risk factors which led to his criminal offending, he should be granted parole. There would be no reason to deny that, besides revenge. Hard work deserves rewards, and we should not discriminate just because somebody has a criminal background. They need to learn this important lesson also. It is crucial for effective work ethic.

It's not about choosing sides. As Brittanymaria pointed out, that's not how our justice system is set up. A court case is "The Crown vs. [the accused]", not the victim or the victim's family vs. the accused. They get to make victim impact statements at trial and at parole hearings but that's the only input they have on the outcome. A decision about parole or outings isn't FOR or AGAINST the victims at all. I can understand that the victims themselves might feel that way. it would be like their experience and feelings are being invalidated. The hang-em-high crowd, with no personal stake in the matter, likes to play the "what about the victim?" card to justify their own desire for revenge, IMO.

I completely agree with you. Victims should have the right to present victim impact statements, but should not have the right to play a role in the decision making process of sentencing or parole. Those decisions should be left to the professionals (parole board members and judges who are trained and educated in those areas). Often, the victims of crime only desire revenge, like you said and we cannot allow that in our justice system, which is why victims have such a small role.

"There is a difference between someone who deals drugs, and someone who commits murder. BIG difference. We're talking about murder. And by not taking the victim's side the parole board is taking the murderer's side, if they free him. Victims are part of society too, and their views need to be taken into account. Keeping a murderer locked up the rest of their life is 100% effective in keeping that person from killing an innocent person again. Letting them out may result in no harm, but it may result in another person being killed, and far too many times have we seen this happen. You seem to be forgetting that you are human. Humans enjoy revenge. I can promise you that you would want some level of revenge for a person who killed your loved one. If you don't, there is seriously something wrong with you. There's a difference between having compassion and just being plain delusional. I hate to call names, but you are delusional. We can control our feelings as humans and how we use those against other humans, but we can't get rid of those feelings,and we can't change what we are. Humans aren't nice and wonderful beings,and although we can try to be the best and most compassionate possible, we are who we are, and we can't fight nature.

Intangible- I understand the courts aren't actually picking a side, but that's what it comes down to. Either way, one side is going to get hurt, and although that's not how they should make their decision,they need to keep that in mind."

Actually, we are not talking about murder. It is impaired driving cause death. Intent is the state of mind required for a charge of murder and under the influence, one's judgment and reason are severely impaired, to the point where they cannot form the necessary intent. The parole board does not take "sides." They release someone on parole based on the progress they have made in prison, and efforts at rehabilitation and self-improvement. They consider public safety in their decision and they make a decision based on what would be in society's best interests, not the victims' and not the offenders'. Victims' views are already considered through their victim impact statements, but victims should not play a role in sentencing or parole board decisions because often times, they only desire revenge and that is NOT what our justice system is based upon. Keeping a murderer locked up for the rest of their life, is inhumane and in my opinion, uncivilized and barbaric. If they have taken steps towards rehabilitating and improving themselves, there is no reason to deny them conditional release. As humans, we need to move past the basic desire for revenge and think logically, rationally and look to the research and evidence of what works. I would never seek revenge on anybody. That goes against my values and beliefs. Actually, I am not delusional, I am compassionate. I believe that humans are inherently good and I am optimistic about human nature.

I don't agree that parole boards need to keep anyone's feelings in mind during their deliberations. Once they do that, the decision-making becomes subjective.

Anyhoo, I'm feeling uncomfortable having a theoretical discussion about the justice system when this case is close to home and people familiar with the players are reading this and struggling with their own feelings. I'm bowing out now.

One last thing, though. I read a story on Mike McIntyre's site (written by Gordon Sinclair) that described the time Tyler visited Earl in prison to forgive him. Tyler had my admiration already but that article hit it right out of the park.

I agree with you, about the parole board not letting opinions sway their decision making process as it then becomes subjective and not objective. The parole board should only consider the list they are given which considers the risk to public safety, and efforts at rehabilitation and self-improvement.

I don't know what article you're reading, but we are talking about murder. The victim's views aren't considered through victim impact statements, those are only there so the perpetrator can get a chance at understanding what damage they've done.

You may call it compassionate, and maybe it is somewhat, but ultimately you are living in a fantasy world if you believe everyone is good. I believe everyone has some good in them, but I am not naive enough to believe they are mostly good, or good enough to be allowed to live society. Humans do not have compassion for all people, and nor should we. We seek revenge when appropriate, and that's not necessarily as bad a thing as it's made out to be. You may have escaped all these 'bad' feelings that humans possess, but live a few more years, experience the truly disturbed side of humanity, and you will change your views. I can understand that the reason you see the world in rose-coloured glasses is because you haven't fully experienced the depths of depravity that humanity is capable of, or experienced much of anything for that matter. And that's okay for now, but if you refuse to change your mind after you're presented with these things, then you are truly delusional. It's not a bad trait to try and see the good in people, and I hope you always do that, but there is a thing called being realistic, where you realize that although people may have some good in them, they may have a lot of bad that will just never go away.

I do not believe everything in this world is good, but I believe human nature is inherently good. We SHOULD strive to have compassion for all people in difficult situations. I know I do and I am proud of that. Revenge is never appropriate. Just because I am optimistic and positive, does not mean I have so-called "rose coloured glasses"! Just because I am young, does not mean I havn't experienced life. I am free to have my opinion and I will continue to have strong beliefs and values regarding this subject. I guarantee you, they will not change. Nobody is forcing me to change my mind. I realize that some people have made bad decisions, but that does not make their entire person bad. I strongly believe that all people can change for the better, given the opportunity, support and assistance to do so.

This is a man that should be left in jail and throw away the key. For years he had bullied, stocked and threatened people. Even with the treatment he has gone threw he will do it again. Personally when you are in prison for life it means life with out have having the rights to an education. He thought he would get off with being a juvenile at the time, I'm glad the pushed him up to adult. The family's, friends and victims should to think about about having this monster back on the streets. For cases like this they should bring back the death penalty. Curtis is no longer with us and neither should Earl.

I cannot believe how vengeful you appear to be! You are only seeking revenge. If you want a draconian and barbaric justice system, I suggest you live in Texas or a third world country, not Canada. Here in Canada, we are civilized and respect human rights! People can change, given the opportunity, assistance and support. Everybody, regardless of your criminal background, retains and deserves their basic human rights. The Charter does not discriminate. I cannot believe you are advocating for the death penalty! How barbaric, inhumane and uncivilized! If you are opposed to murder, you should also oppose the death penalty as it is the pre-meditated and cold blooded murder by the government! How does that teach anyone in society that killing is wrong, when the government practices it themselves?! It is pure revenge, which is completely unacceptable in modern day criminal justice systems.

I grew up one year younger than Earl and one year older than Curtis in Altona. I remember (very clearly) when this happened. It"s not something one forgets. I remember the feeling in the local coffee shop/hangout when word came the following evening that Earl was arrested, it was a sense of relief. NOBODY was shocked that Earl was capable of this. The shock was who he did it to and why.

I knew Earl and I can tell you all that he was NOT bullied. I also knew Curtis and can tell you he was no bully.

Earl is a smart man, he has had twenty years to perfect his story, he has, no doubt, spent countless hours in the prison libraries studiing what to say when he was up for parole. And how fast people fall for the victim card when it is played.

I can not remember anyone that would have had the nerve to walk up to Earl and call him gay. I don't need to start a list about all the things he did to torment others but I would like to tell you of one incident that occured on more than one occasion. This does not involve me, of even a close friend. Earl called a fellow school mate to tell him that he had just been watching him from a distance and then went on to mention what the school mate had been doing (nothing out of the ordinary just walking around his back yard). Earl then told him he had a rifle trained on him the whole time, and just wanted this kid to know that.

That is not the action of a victim, but one that feels the need to control.
P. board: you've been had.

You haven't contributed to this conversation much beyond your first post. The world isn't b/w and you seem blind to the specifics. To my knowledge you are not connected to this case other than personal interest, and though heavily outweighed by people who know the individual(s) first hand, you incompassionatetly disregard all of it... and re-iterate your few generic points. From your idyllic perspective there is no distinction between crimes or people.
Now you say something to ekrh that makes no sense... "Actually, we are not talking about murder. It is impaired driving cause death"... Is this correct? You actually don't even know what we're talking about?
So, to clarify. This isn't some silly bad decision that resulted in accidental manslaughter. No matter how horrific and preventable, I feel compassion for an individual who drinks too much, makes a bad choice to drive home, and then accidentally kills someone with their car. (Don't read that I condone it.) The individual didn't plan on the outcome, feels true remorse and is extremely unlikely to ever make such a bad decision again. They should do their time and then continue their life as normally as possible.
Earl planned the outcome. In the most deliberate, malicious, psychopathic way. There was no car involved. He did it with his bare hands and burnt the bodies alive. His mind is disturbed and should never walk amongst the sane again. That is not revenge. Some things don't warrant a 2nd chance.

I believe I have definitely contributed. I am sorry, I got two different stories confused in my response. Everybody, including this offender, deserve the chance to be gradually reintegrated into society, if they have shown that they can rehabilitate and improve themselves, which Earl has clearly proven. There is no reason to keep a model inmate such as this man, confined for longer periods, or to deny him the right to an escorted temporary absence. Everybody deserves a second chance because people can and do change, if they are given the opportunity, support and assistance to do so, in my opinion.

Actually, Canada's government only respects the rights of the criminals. Not the victims, nor the future victims. How often have we seen the parole board in all their "wisdom" be conned into thinking a murderer was fit to leave, only to have them kill again? Far too many preventable times.

If you take nothing else from all the heckling people give you, at least take this...Learn about psychology. You definitely know little of it, or you would most definitely have different views. I agree that many criminals can change if given the resources to help them, even some murderers. In my opinion that doesn't give them (the murderers) the right to live a free life. I know you disagree, so let's not get into that again. What I'd like to bring to your attention, is that not every human brain is alike. Mental illness is not the same as being brought up badly, or enduring abuse, or whatever else the cause of crime may often be. It is something physically wrong with one's brain. Sometimes with cognitive therapy and medication these things can be treated and controlled, but they can never be cured. There is always the risk of the issues coming back, with or without medication. So please do some heavy research into psychology and more specifically, the psychology of a serial killer's mind. If that doesn't change your mind, then you're just a lost cause living in a fantasy world.

I have knowledge of psychology. I disagree with you. Everybody, regardless of their past wrongs or criminal background, deserves their basic human rights. I agree with you on one part.. that not all mental illness can be cured. It can be effectively managed however, through treatment and programming. There will always be some risk, that past criminals will re-offend. The risk will never be zero, which is why the parole board should still implement gradual reintegration/release into the community, even if the risk is minimal. Serial killers are one of the few types of criminals who I feel should be imprisoned, if prison conditions improve and place more emphasis on rehabilitation/treatment. 

Your comments are always the same... Defending the criminal... telling everyone else that we are inhumane and barbaric. The fact of the matter is that our justice system has failed victims over and over again resulting in the general population to enforce our own justice system. Earl is playing the system, as many criminals do. It is so easy to commit a crime in this country and get away with it that it's actually unreal. All you need to do is play the role that you are so sympathetic and that you are changing your life and the most common is to bring up your harsh childhood and well then you get sympathy from the courts. This is unreal and because of this failed justice system... many people will begin to take the law into their own hands. That is when the criminals and yourself will learn!!

Yes, I will defend the criminal, because they are marginalized in society and I want to support and assist the disadvantaged individuals in our community. Earl is not pretending to change his life and improve himself. Clearly, he actually has attempted to improve himself through upgrading his education and participating in rehab programming! He was not forced to do any of that! That was his choice. I cannot believe you are promoting vigilante justice. Completely unacceptable. Victims' views should not be considered in sentencing and parole board decisions because most often, they only desire revenge! 

Joy- Personally I think if you do the crime you do the time. Death, not just in this case in any case. Sure they may go and do all programs and the treatments given to them, medications, education but half the time these people go back into society and do the same crime over. This man is smart and he will play the system. You say you have some knowledge of psychology (some). Next time you write maybe you should have more knowledge in psychology and maybe a degree and maybe even go have a visit for yourself and the write back and tell us what you think.

The saying "if you do the crime, you do the time" portrays crime as being black and white, when in reality, there are usually many surrounding mitigating factors which can reduce one's sentence, such as mental illness, remorse, participation in programming, among many others. The statement is considering all crimes as equal and deserving of punishment, when in reality, all crimes are different and their are different circumstances surrounding each offender who commits a crime. Therefore, we need to treat them differently, not all the same. Joy, I am not sure you are aware of research on recidivism, but when offenders complete programming and education, their chances of re-offending decrease substantially. Do yourself a favor, and educate yourself about recidivism rates before you post please. 

How do you know Earl isn't pretending? Were you there for any of his life? Well, a lot of people on this comment board were, and although they may not know him now, after his supposed 'rehabilitation', that doesn't mean what they're saying as no substance. Like I said, this would not be the first, second, or 20th time the parole board has made a mistake in letting someone out...and that's in the past couple years alone. So no I don't always trust that they have society's best interests in mind. I think they take this rehabilitation thing too far. Now of course I think people should always have human rights, and perhaps programs and services in prison need to be improved, but they are there at least. But the risk of reoffending has to be zero, minimal is too much of a risk. Like I said, the goal shouldn't always be to reintegrate into society, and although you admit that won't always happen, you harp on and on about that being the only goal here. Canada is changing, and we are getting really tired of people not getting sentenced appropriately, of being let out too early, or let out with a high risk of reoffending, etc. Your views are actually in the minority now, Brittany, so don't be surprised when the laws start to change. It'll happen slowly, but the frustration your beloved Liberals have created are going to make that change happen. So you may in fact be the one who'll have to move.

I don't know he is not pretending. But like Intangible said "Question for anyone who knew Earl and knows something about the trial. Weren't there people who testified about his character to dispute his claim that he was bullied? Surely, there must have been so I can't understand how he can float that excuse 20 years later and it's accepted by the parole board." If he really was the bully people say he was, you would think somebody would have testified to that. I personally have been bullied, and I believe this offender's claims. It can cause a lot of damage to your self-esteem and mental condition to the point where you can "snap." Letting this man, who has worked hard to improve himself, on temporary absences would NOT be a mistake. I cannot think of a better set of circumstances where somebody would be released. He deserves to be rewarded for his hard work. The risk of re-offending will NEVER be zero! At the least it will be minimal, but we cannot keep people with a minimal risk of re-offending imprisoned, as that is harsh, unnecessary and causes further overcrowding for those who do truly pose a danger to society. I would love to move to Finland! You should do some research on their so called "soft on crime" justice system and surprisingly, how effective it is! Who would've thought?!

There is no reason to keep a model inmate such as this man, confined for longer periods, or to deny him the right to an escorted temporary absence.
I know for a fact that Paul Bernardo is a model inmate. Other model inmates included Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and Wayne Williams to name a few. There is even sporadic periods when Charles Manson would be considered a model inmate...although I believe these were few and far between. Under no circumstances do I believe any of them should be or have been (for those deceased) given any temporary absenses.

Yes, but Bernardo's crimes were completely different and much more gruesome than this offender's crimes. Bernardo was a serial killer and likely suffers from psychopathic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder, therefore, even with programming he will always pose a higher risk of re-offending. The offender in this story has not been diagnosed with a mental disorder, but was bullied and "snapped." There is a difference between the two offenders. Under the circumstances surrounding THIS offender's progress in programming/rehabilitation/education, I believe that there is no reason to deny him temporary absences as that would be cruel and harsh. I am glad he was granted them.

Although no one answered Intangible's question, I'm sure some people did testify against his bully claims. In this article it doesn't explain much about the trial, just that he is claiming to be bullied here. Either way, why would you believe this one person saying he was bullied, as opposed to the 5-10 people on here saying he was in fact always the bullier? I see no reason why that many people would make it up. So stop believing what you want to believe and start accepting reality. Everything you say is coming straight out of a textbook or research. Have you met criminals before? Lots of them? Have you actually hung out with any? I suggest you do that, it'll give you some interesting insight. And study psychology as I suggested earlier. I'd also like to note that Finland and Canada are very different societies. We are way more diverse in terms of culture, race, religion, everything. You can't compare crime stats and justice systems alone. You also have to take into account the aforementioned, and other factors such as how they deal with addiction,with mental illness, etc. We don't do a very good job of addressing these issues, so no doubt we have a lot of crime here in Canada.Then when high risk offenders are constantly being let out because they weren't sentenced harsh enough in the first place, or for whatever other ridiculous reason, they reoffend.There are many factors in reducing crime,simply letting someone out because they have that right doesn't help.

To your question, yes, I have met criminals before. I go to the law courts frequently and have talked to a few and also families of offenders. Next year, I plan on volunteering with the JHS where I will meet criminals and provide them with assistance and support. And Ekrh, I have studied psychology, for your information. What we need in Canada, is to stop incarcerating so many individuals and spend more money on crime prevention programs and rehabilitation for criminals. Prisons do not accomplish crime reduction or prevention.

I agree that we should spend more on crime prevention efforts, absolutely. But I also think that an extremist viewpoint on either side of the spectrum won't do anyone any good. Why? Because the world doesn't operate in extremes. Crime prevention such as addiction services, better mental health care, free therapy, taking children out of destructive homes, etc, these will all do wonders in reducing crime. So at least we agree there. However, I still feel like you only believe what you want to believe. How you talk suggests you understand very little about psychology. There are many people out there who will not rehabilitate themselves. For reasons of mental illness, or they just don't want to, or whatever the reason may be, there are a lot more people like that than you may think. To just assume that letting every criminal free is going to help them, is very harmful. Prison can be effective, if paired with therapy, addiction services, education, learning a job, etc. These have been proven to help. And it is my firm belief that rapists, pedophiles, and murderers should never be free. Mostly because the first two are incapable of change, and I really hope you don't try and defend them or that is just sickening. Canada is a very diverse culture, so as good as that can be, it also means that rarely are we as a country going to come to a majority opinion. Like I said, the world doesn't operate in extremes, and neither should our views.

I agree that there are people who do not want help. I do believe prison is warranted in some cases, such as the rare cases with extremely violent and dangerous offenders. I do not believe sex offenders should be in prison, as sex offending is sort of a mental illness/deficiency. I believe there should be sex offender treatment facilities, like mental health facilities, where they can be held indefinitely. I do not believe that anybody should be held in prison for their whole natural lives. Everybody deserves the chance at reintegrating into society.    

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