Statement by Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada on criminal charges laid against inmates in federal custody

Ottawa, Ontario (STL.News) Correctional Service Canada – Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, issued the following statement today regarding the criminal charges laid by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the July 2019 death of Martin Payne in Metchosin, British Columbia:

“First and foremost, I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr. Payne’s family and friends as we learn of the new developments surrounding this case.  I also want to recognize the impact this has had on the community and to let you know that we take this situation very seriously, including the fact that the inmates charged had escaped from our custody prior to this tragic crime.

Following the escape last July, I immediately launched a Board of Investigation to understand the circumstances that led to the escape and the remedies required to enhance public safety and prevent future escapes.

The investigation has led to a close examination of our practices and policies in how we prevent and respond to escapes, and how inmates are classified at the minimum-security level.  Specifically, we:

  • completed an investigation into the circumstances of the escape at William Head Institution (WHI);
  • initiated a review of all inmates who were classified as minimum-security and took appropriate action, where required;
  • revised our policies to strengthen the assessment process and decision-making involving minimum-security inmates; and
  • worked to improve our communications practices and policies to make communities promptly aware of escapes.

WHI has implemented a number of measures to enhance security at the site.  For example, following consultation with external stakeholders, the institution added an additional formal count to its scheduled daily counts and has revised the time at which inmates must return to their housing units at the end of the day.

This is a terrible tragedy and it is important that we garner lessons from the escapes and work to prevent them in the future.  We will continue to work diligently to ensure that our policies and practices are evidence-based and are responsive to an evolving environment.

The cornerstone of CSC’s mandate is to ensure that offenders are safely managed both in our institutions and during their eventual release to the community.  We do this work in close collaboration with partners and communities across Canada and are grateful for their feedback and collaboration in making improvements to better serve and protect our communities.

I know this is an incredibly difficult time for the citizens of the West Shore and in particular, Metchosin.  I know Mr. Payne was a deeply loved member of the community and my heartfelt condolences go out to all of you for your loss.”