Zachary Armitage, 30, is one of two William Head Institution inmates who escaped from the prison in July. He has plead guilty to escape from lawful custody and awaits sentencing in Mountain Institution. (Correctional Service of Canada/Facebook)

Corrections says inmates undergo various assessments before placed in prison

Recent prison escapee sent to lower security prison than originally recommended

Correctional Service Canada is tight-lipped about why an inmate – who was originally assessed to be in a medium security prison – ended up at the low security William Head Institution in Metchosin.

Black Press Media reached out to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) with questions regarding Zachary Armitage and James Busch, two inmates who escaped Metchosin’s William Head Institution in July. One of the questions in particular asked why Armitage – who was deemed fit for a medium security institution according to details revealed in court – was recommended for William Head.

Armitage and Busch escaped from the Metchosin prison on July 7. They were present for the prison’s evening head count then discovered missing at 11 p.m.

During what was supposed to be a sentencing hearing for Armitage in September, court heard that the pair noted the low tide and made a “spontaneous decision” to escape. The inmates were found two days later.

READ ALSO: Judge ‘bewildered’ that escaped Metchosin inmate was in a minimum security prison

At Armitage’s sentencing hearing, court also heard that he has six escapes on his record. Twice as a youth, two more times in 2008 and once in 2016. Instead of sentencing, the judge requested additional information about the override recommendation that put Armitage at William Head.

While privacy laws prohibited CSC from sharing details about specific offenders, the federal agency shed some light on the process of deciding where inmates are placed. According to CSC, offenders are assessed and case-specific information such as documents from police, courts and family are reviewed. The offender’s security level is based on three factors: how they will adjust to the institution, the risk of escape and public safety.

When conducting a security level review, CSC said a security reclassification scale is used as one element to assess the most appropriate level of security for an inmate.

“The case management reviews also take into account case-specific information such as police records, psychological risk assessments and comments from Elders,” said Lucinda Fraser, spokesperson for CSC, in an e-mailed statement. “For Indigenous offenders, the case management’s overall assessment is made in the context of the offender’s social history.”

READ ALSO: Months after inmates escape Metchosin prison, community still wants answers

If, after all of the information is analyzed, the final security-level assessment is different than the security reclassification scale results, the case management team must provide a clear rationale for the recommendation, Fraser said.

As for security at the prison, Fraser said the perimiter is clearly defined but “not normally directly controlled” like with a perimiter fence, for example. Fraser said inmate activities are monitored through practices such as staff supervision of activity areas, routine security patrols and formal counts.

“The environment of a minimum-security institution is intended to develop an offender’s capacity to operate with minimal monitoring,” Fraser said. “This plays a very important role in the process of reintegrating offenders back into the community and helping them become law-abiding citizens.”

– With files from Nina Grossman

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read