As we go to press, I can’t help thinking about the recent revelation of a controversial, insane, deplorable, inappropriate (pick one) decision by Correctional Service Canada. Terri-Lynne McClintic was caught on surveillance video in 2009 leading little Tori Stafford away to her eventual death. It took police less than a month to catch and charge Michael Rafferty, 28, and Terri-Lynne McClintic, 18, in the horrific abduction, rape, beating and murder of a defenceless 8-year-old girl.
McClintic pleaded guilty to the abduction and murder and was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison. Later, testifying at Rafferty’s trial in 2012, she stunned the court with graphic details of how she bludgeoned the little girl to death after Rafferty had finished raping and beating her. Despite Rafferty’s claims of innocence, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
You all know of the story, which captivated the news cycles of the time. However, I had never forced myself to read transcripts of McClintic’s testimony, until now. All I could think of as I read, was the intensity of the horror that must have gripped Tori’s parents as they sat in that court room. I could only be thankful that those two “monsters”, in the judge’s words, were behind bars where they could not destroy any other young girls. The police had done their jobs. The court had done its job. And the torch was passed to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to do its job.
Currently being sued for racism, sexism, bullying and intimidation, the CSC has a lot of to deal with, but that neither explains or excuses the decision-making behind allowing McClintic out from behind bars with the intent, possibly, to transform her rage in this healing place and emerge a good person.
Minister Goodale’s mandate letter (dated 2018-09-05) to Anne Kelly, the new Corrections Commissioner who was appointed this past July, noted “you play a key role in ensuring that CSC protects Canadian communities through appropriate custodial measures, effective rehabilitation and safe reintegration of people serving a federal sentence.” Goodale went on to encourage her to “work with Indigenous partners to increase the number of community-run healing lodges […] as well as the number of community-supported releases”.
Does a person who is capable of the extremely violent rage that McClintic had described to the court actually deserve to sidestep their court-imposed sentence? Does sending someone like that to a healing lodge protect Canadian communities? I have not found one person who feels protected knowing that McClintic’s time behind bars has been shortened in favour of sending her off to a spiritual healing lodge.
Did Ms Kelly misinterpret Goodale’s direction to increase the number of community-run healing lodges... and releases? Surely he didn’t mean for a person capable of the most despicable and horrific crime of violence and depravity against a young child.
I have to wonder, how many other murderers are being released in such a manner?
Chris MacLean is the Editor-in-Chief at FrontLine magazine.