Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Why minimum security for escapees?

You would think they’d be locked up in a very secure location for a very long time

I’m certainly glad that those two “delightful” young men who escaped from the William Head Institution in Metchosin on July 7 were caught by the RCMP on Tuesday night in Esquimalt.

Going through their lengthy criminal records, one has to wonder just how these scary bozos from central Canada were ever allowed to serve time in a minimum-security institution after spending just a short amount of years in more secure facilities in the first place.

James Busch, 42, pleaded guilty in 2010 to second-degree murder with no chance of parole for 15 years for strangling a woman over a $20 debt.

He then stuffed the woman’s body into a suitcase and hauled it to an alley trash bin.

Busch also earlier served seven years in prison for raping his seven-year-old cousin.

In 2011, Zachary Armitage, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and robbery after beating a man on the head with a blunt object and leaving him for dead.

The man was left a quadriplegic and unable to speak after the attack, in which Armitage also stole the man’s firearms, cellphone, gaming system and car.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the attack and for another violent robbery the same month in which he beat one of his victims unconscious.

As well, in 2016, Armitage escaped from another minimum-security federal institution before he was captured the next day.

Pleasant boys all around and you would think they’d be locked up in a very secure location for a very long time before there was any chance they could do any more harm in society.

Apparently, despite their serious crimes, the men successfully completed a number of rehabilitation courses and programs while incarcerated in more secure facilities and were assessed as low risk to public safety and for escape before being sent to William Head.

So far, there’s been no indication from the authorities as to how they managed to escape from William Head, but it’s known that inmates there often volunteer in the community and are granted various levels of parole.

It seems possible they could have just walked away without anyone even noticing because their absence was not noted for hours after they decided to follow the yellow-brink road out of whatever custody they were under last Sunday.

I expect their escape was merely a crime of opportunity and I’m not surprised they were caught mere days afterwards as they obviously didn’t have the resources and connections here on the Island to stay on the loose for very long, especially considering there was a massive police search for them.

Luckily, it appears that no members of the public were put in any danger.

I expect these guys could have easily resorted to violence to maintain their freedom.

After all, judging from their criminal records, it’s not like they have never resorted to extreme measures before.

Now that they have been caught, I trust that a thorough investigation will be conducted to ensure the people of the Island are not faced with such threats again.

It’s understandable that the criminal justice system wants to rehabilitate convicts and return them to society for their own good and the good of the public, as well as keeping the high costs of incarceration down.

But it is a little unnerving that such unsavoury characters as these two were chosen for this process so soon after their heinous crimes.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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