You will recall that on August 4, 1998, Detective Constable William Hancox died as a result of being stabbed by one of two females bent on stealing his surveillance vehicle. Both these women, Elaine Rose Cece and Mary Barbara Taylor were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
On June 21, 2012, Bill Hancox’s widow, Kim, received a distrubing letter from Correctional Services regarding her late husbands killer. It stated “This letter is to notify you that the warden of this offender’s institution has authorized four additional escorted termporary absences” and “we will not be notifying you every time this offender leaves the institution”.
Under Section 36 of the Act it states “Escorted Temporary Absences may be granted to……offenders who were sentenced on or after July 26 to a life minimum, where they have more than three years to serve before their parole eligibility date.” This means the Warden of the institution has the power to grant the releases.
At a Parole Board hearing the Board heard that Ms. Cece who stabbed Bill Hancox to death in a sneak, ambush attack orchestrated by Ms.Taylor, had a “low level of insight into her crime” and was involved in “unhealthy inmate relationships” and a “lack of understanding”. The warden knowing this information decided “this offender will be permitted to be absent from the institution for personal development”.
This information, once made public, generated considerable dialogue and acrimony in the police community, notwithstanding the harm it caused to the Hancox family and friends.
On January 22, 2013 the PPAO Board of Directors authorized the sending of a letter to Mr. Don Head, Commissioner, Correction Services Canada requesting an immediate investigation into the decisions being made by the Warden in this case. (Copy of Letter attached)
On March7, 2013, Mr. Don Head replied to the original letter requesting an investigation. Mr. Head made the following comments:
“In the past month, CSC has undertaken a national review of Temporary Absence and Work Release decisions to ensure that the Warden’s authority for decisions on Temporary Absences are made in full regard to the release policies and comments of the PBC.
As a result of this review, the policy governing case management will be revised to include the following key changes:
- Direction requiring case management staff to consider, address, and document previous PBC comments in all case management decisions, in particular following a negative decision;
- Direction to strenghten the assessment of victim’s considerations in Temporary Absence and Work Release decisions, including the application of additional conditions where appropriate;
- Direction regarding the requirement for mandatory consultation with Regional Deputy Commissioner for Work Releasse decisions when the Unescorted Temporary Absence authority is the PBC.
In closing, I wish to thank you for your letter and for sharing your comments. I intend to discuss them with my colleague Mr. Harvey Cenaiko, Chairperson of the PBC, at our next meeting, in order to explore additional methods of ensuring PBC decisions are communicated and reinforced throughout the offender’s sentence”. (Attached in the complete letter).
PPAO Members: The PPAO Board of Directors will monitor this issue and report back should any developments take place.