Nearly two dozen child murderers have been sent to Indigenous healing lodges since 2011, according to data from Public Safety Canada.
Healing lodges held four offenders convicted of first and second-degree murder of children during the 2011-12 fiscal year. The following three years saw 10 more offenders sent to the facilities.
Another seven were transferred to healing lodges after Justin Trudeau succeeded Stephen Harper as prime minister in 2015, reveal the figures shared with Global News by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office.
In total, 21 child murderers have been transferred to healing lodges since 2011. Over half of them (14) were held there while the Conservative government was in power,
As of Sept. 23, 2018, there were 11 convicted child-killers held in healing lodges.
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The data was released to Global News on Tuesday following widespread outrage over the transfer of Terri-Lynne McClintic — convicted in the 2009 rape and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford — to a healing lodge in Saskatchewan in October.
McClintic was moved out of the healing lodge and into an Edmonton prison last week, Tori’s father Rodney Stafford told Global News Radio. Stafford had previously organized a rally in Ottawa calling for the government to put McClintic back behind bars.
Goodale also announced last week that the Liberal government was implementing new rules governing the assessment and transfer of inmates from conventional prisons to healing lodges.
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“At the request of the minister, corrections officials reviewed inmate transfer policies. Based on their recommendations, the government strengthened the governance and oversight of transfers to healing lodges,” a spokesperson for Goodale told Global News in an email accompanying the data.
“The murder of a child is odious and utterly reprehensible, and perpetrators must be held fully accountable for their crime. At the same time, our correctional system must also strive for rehabilitation so we can have fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims, and ultimately safer communities.”
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Goodale’s spokesperson added that Correctional Service Canada only approves offenders for transfer to healing lodges “following a thorough risk assessment,” while prioritizing public safety.
He also insisted that that healing lodges “have a record of successfully dealing with difficult cases, and can be the right correctional approach for certain offenders.”
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Indeed, research out of Northern Arizona University showed that six per cent of healing lodge residents had re-offended while they were on conditional release, compared to a federal re-offending rate of 11 per cent.
However, a 2002 study showed higher rates for re-offending among healing lodge residents than among offenders in minimum security — it was 19 per cent, “significantly higher” than the rate among Indigenous offenders who were released from minimum security (13 per cent).
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That study was updated in 2011, and it showed that among Indigenous offenders, conditional releases were “as likely to be maintained in the community as conditional releases for aboriginal offenders from minimum security institutions for men and multi-level security institutions for women.”
— With files from Amanda Connolly and Jesse Ferreras