Home, home on the range
Everyone — the Manitoba government, youth corrections staff, even the young cold-blooded murderer himself — wants to see him transferred out of the young offenders corrections system and into an adult jail.
Everyone but the killer’s mom, that is.
And possibly provincial court Judge Judith Elliott.
It was a rare proceeding in court Tuesday where the now-18-year-old convicted murderer and confirmed MOB gang member was seeking a transfer from the youth facility he’s currently being housed in and into an adult facility to serve out the remaining years on the custody portion of his seven-year-long youth sentence.
The young man — and he is a man now — is serving the time after stepping forward and pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the “senseless and unprovoked” shooting death of young dad Scott MacGillivray in his own backyard in August 2009. This guy was the one who pulled the trigger.
He and a co-accused (the story link above references him — also MOB) had just committed an armed home invasion down the street from MacGillivray’s North End home when McGillivray encountered the pair trying to ditch the gun.
He’s been locked up at Agassiz Youth Centre, the Manitoba Youth Centre or at various times in lockdown solitary confinement at the Lakewood Correctional Centre for youths since his arrest for the killing.
And now, under section 92 of Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, he’s requested a transfer into the adult system, ostensibly because he’s sick and tired of being surrounded by kids and their juvenile behaviour.
Judge Elliott must determine whether it’s in his best interest to go adult [she doesn’t believe it is] or in the public interest to remove him. He can’t just do it, despite being an adult in law.
His mom, as stated above, opposes the move.
“I don’t agree with him going to an adult facility,” she told Elliott Tuesday. “I don’t want him to … [but] he decided that’s what he wants to do,” she said, adding in adult jail, he won’t be at the receiving end of hugs from relatives who want to see him do better.
Yes, she told him, she understands the kids in juvie get on his nerves, but “there are a lot of adults who can be immature too,” she warned him. “Some of them don’t give a shit either.”
A provincial civil lawyer representing the provincial correctional department wants him out of the youth system too, saying his anger issues present a “real risk” to kids in the system with him, that he poses an “increased likelihood of serious harm” if he stays.
Why, just on Sunday, Elliott was told, there was an incident where an inmate complained of being bruised and battered — an incident described by the killer as “horseplay” apparently gone too far. It’s possible he could face charges from it.
“There’s a propensity for unpredictable violence,” the Crown lawyer said. “We see it being safer … having him transferred to an adult facility.”
As well, the province says, the murderer has exhausted all avenues of rehabilitation programming available to him in the youth system.
But if he is, he’s in for a long wait to get a bed at Milner Ridge, the provincial jail where adult MOB gang members are held, a senior corrections official testified.
MOB members waiting months for transfer
Alan Peacock, a chief correctional officer/manager at the Winnipeg Remand Centre told court that there are currently three MOB members at the downtown facility waiting to get a cell/bed at Milner.
Right now, Peacock says, the MOB range at Milner is double bunked and full. Any prospective additions to the range could wait from a week to six months to get there.
Currently, there are three MOB members in the remand centre on the wait list. One of them has been waiting about 3-4 months to get moved to Milner.
There was little talk of the killer disavowing the gang life. And even if he did, he’d have to prove he’s had two years of non-activity in order to be put in general population.
He can’t dodge his gang label, Peacock said.
“That’s the community he lives in,” said defence lawyer Iain MacNair. “He’s going to continue to be exposed to it … rehabilitation right now does not seem to be progressing at a steady rate at Agassiz (youth jail),” MacNair said.
“We can’t just arbitrarily take a gang label off of somebody,” Peacock told Elliott. Even if Corrections did, inmates in jail “have their own communications grapevine” throughout the adult and youth systems to find out who’s who in the zoo and who’s charged with what, he said.
If the killer is transferred — and Peacock has no stake in the game, really — he’s likely to spend all his time at the remand centre on 23-hour-a-day segregation with limited access to programming or recreation because there’s no room to put him while keeping he and other inmates safe.
As it is, he was headed back to youth segregation after court Tuesday because of Sunday’s violence.
Peacock was queried about what programming the killer would be able to access in the adult system. He said while he couldn’t really speak for jails where sentenced prisoners are held, there is more offered — if offenders choose to avail themselves of it.
“It all depends on the individual, we can’t force anybody,” said Peacock. “We can identify and recommend,” but can’t force inmates out of their units and into classrooms or workshops.
Is putting someone who’s just 18 on an adult gang range in his best interest?, asked Elliott.
“If somebody wants to get out of a gang, that’s not going to help them,” Peacock said. “You fall under the hierarchy and leadership of that gang,” he said.
Judge unconvinced — maybe she should be?
Elliott, by the end of the hour-long hearing — she herself is a former probation officer — was blunt about having to possibly take him out of the youth system and onto the MOB range at Milner — when and if he can get there.
“I’m certainly not of the view it’s in his best interest to be transferred to Milner Ridge,” she said.
She asked for a youth correctional official from Agassiz Youth Centre be called to testify before her about the young killer’s case in coming weeks before coming to a decision.
All I say is — he’s 18, an adult. If he wants to go there, let him go — especially if he’s in any way interfering with the potential rehabilitation of a young offender in the youth system.
Even the killer conceded if he’s charged for Sunday’s violence, he’ll be charged as an adult and sent packing to the remand centre.
“I’m just stating facts,” he told Elliott, without guile.