The Correctional Service of Canada is concerned. Seems the rights of convicted rapist/killer Paul Bernardo would have been compromised by informing the public that he was recently transferred to a medium-security prison. And the reason for the transfer? No answer.

Yes, our correctional officials are worried. But it’s not the same kind of worry that the parents of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy struggled with during their daughters’ disappearance and subsequent killings. Bernardo and wife Karla Holmolka video-taped their sadistic games with the girls, and in the end, Homolka struck a devil’s bargain with the Crown in return for a 12-year sentence. Bernardo was sentenced to life imprisonment, which some consider too good for his diabolical crimes.

Recently, the lawyer for the slain girls’ families was informed that Bernardo was transferred to medium security with no explanation why. The lawyer was led to believe it was because of Bernardo’s rights to privacy. The girls he tortured, raped and snuffed out weren’t offered any privacy rights because he and Homolka took them away in their depraved and evil scheme. 

Only when the news got out and the outcry ensued did correctional officials try to explain their actions by immediately touching on victims’ rights, not realizing or admitting that those rights initially took a back seat to Bernardo’s. The families of the murdered girls were informed of the transfer on the day it happened, according to their lawyer. They and the public had a right to know before Bernardo left maximum security. 

After key politicians voiced their shock and dismay the Correctional Service of Canada announced it would review what led to the transfer and whether it was appropriate. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford pulled no punches by saying the correctional commissioner (Anne Kelly) should step down or be fired. In the Ontario Legislature, Ford ditched all political correctness and said, “I don’t even like using his name, Mr. Speaker, and sorry for the language, but he (Bernardo) is nothing but a scumbag; this SOB needs to be in jail 23 hours a day in maximum security.”

The pain that all of this has caused to the families should never be experienced by anyone. Too often when egregious acts are committed we see sentences that do not fit the crime. Or victims and their families are dumbstruck to see the perpetrators in the community without any advance warning of their release. 

We sincerely hope this review will lead to changes in the correctional system where victims’ rights “finally” supersede those who commit heinous crimes against the innocent. Kristen, Leslie and their families deserve this much.                                   

Lyonel Doherty, editor