The lawyer for the families of two of Paul Bernardo’s victims says that with Correctional Service Canada (CSC) not being forthcoming as to why it transferred the serial killer to a medium-security prison, it raises fears and speculation of a possibility that the federal agency may want to eventually release Bernardo at some point.
“I see this all the time, that there is a methodology of cascading through the system from maximum security, medium, then minimum security, to facilitate the offender’s chances of getting parole,” Tim Danson told CTV’s “Power Play.”
He said the reason may be that CSC “believe that they can rehabilitate anybody.”
Danson represents the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, two teenagers who were sexually abused, murdered, and dismembered by Bernardo and his former wife, Karla Homolka, in the early 1990s. He said when he asked the CSC why the serial rapist and killer was moved to a medium-security prison, they refused to give him an answer.
“What’s really disturbing is the reason why they wouldn’t give us an answer … [was] because of Paul Bernardo’s privacy interests,” he said.
“This is one of Canada’s most notorious, sadistic, psychopathic killers,” Danson added, making the argument that Bernardo’s privacy does not outweigh the public interest.
Bernardo, who was declared a dangerous offender, is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of French and Mahaffy. He was also convicted of manslaughter in the death of Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy.
Bernardo was initially incarcerated at the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario and later spent about a decade at the Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison just outside Kingston. In the first week of June, he was quietly transferred to the medium-security La Macaza Institution in Quebec, 190 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
Lawrence Greenspon, a prominent Ottawa criminal attorney, told The Epoch Times that Bernardo’s transfer to medium security is typically “an indication that the inmate is progressing through their sentence.”
“If they’re moving him from maximum prison to medium, theoretically, yes, he could get out of prison. It increases what I think is a very long-shot possibility that Bernardo will at one point be paroled,” he said.
Greenspon said the families of Bernardo’s victims have “a legitimate fear” regarding his move to medium security and the greater privileges and freedoms that likely come with it.
“That said, … I can’t imagine that Paul Bernardo would ever be released to the Canadian public,” he said.
“He’s our Manson,” said Greenspon, referring to now-deceased American mass murderer and cult leader Charles Manson. Manson was accused of ordering his young female followers to murder what is believed to be roughly 35 victims, including a woman who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant.
Greenspon said considering Bernardo’s crimes and what he has been convicted of, it would be hard to make the case that he isn’t still a danger.
“There’s no constitutional right to parole,” he said.
Given that the public “is so strongly reacting to the possibility, however remote it is, that he gets out, [it] is almost an insurance policy that he’s never going to get out,” he added.
‘Not at All Remorseful’
Lawyer Danson, who didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time, told CTV that during Bernardo’s last parole hearing two years ago, “the evidence was overwhelming that [he] was not at all remorseful.”
It was “breathtakingly disturbing,” he said, to hear how Bernardo “spoke about the unspeakable crimes he committed … like normal people would talk about the weather.”
“There’s been no rehabilitation, so what on earth are they doing transferring him from maximum security to minimum security? And do they take into account at all the punishment factor? I guarantee you they don’t.”
The CSC did not reply to requests for comment by press time.
Several political leaders expressed surprise and outrage over Bernardo’s move to a medium-security facility.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino criticized the CSC’s decision, saying on June 2 that he “was profoundly concerned” and that he would be raising Bernardo’s transfer with CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called on the government to “review any powers it has to reverse this ridiculous decision. Mr. Bernardo is a monster and he belongs in maximum security.”
The CSC, meanwhile, released a statement on June 5 saying it will review its decision to transfer Bernardo to a medium-security facility but without explaining the reasons for the transfer.
“We are restricted by law in what we can divulge about an offender’s case,” the statement said, noting that Bernardo “continues to be incarcerated in a secure and controlled institution – with every precaution in place to maintain public safety.”
“Paul Bernardo has been incarcerated since 1993 and continues to serve an indeterminate and life sentence – the most serious possible in Canada,” the CSC said, meaning that there is no end to Bernardo’s sentence.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.