VPD Vet: In Need Of Correction

Photograph of video surveillance cameras at a high secure area





We have received another article developed by Bob Cooper (retired VPD) which has recently been published on the PRIME TIME CRIME website.

The most recent article is entitled “In Need Of Correction” and was posted on November 1, 2012:


I’ll start this with the usual caveat whenever I write about the Correctional Service of Canada and that is that I’ve worked with CSC’s front-line sworn personnel for years and have nothing but respect for them and what they do every day to keep us all safe.  It’s CSC senior management who constantly nullify the work of these dedicated men and women and I can’t recall a more disgraceful example than the death of inmate Jeremy Phillips, 33, who was weeks away from being released when he was murdered by his cellmate, convicted serial killer Michael Wayne McGray in the cell they shared at Mountain Prison in November of 2010.

The details which came out this week in a Coroner’s Inquest were worse than even I suspected but typical of the policies and philosophies of Corrections Canada which, since the Trudeau administration in the 1970s, has placed the rehabilitation of criminals ahead of the protection of society.  Those were the words of then Solicitor-General Jean Pierre Goyer (who also attempted to remove the letters RCMP from the doors of police cars because they didn’t translate into French).

I’ve written several columns in the past about the antics of Corrections Canada such as calling for tenders to supply convicts with ice cream (We all scream for ice cream), and supplying special meals to conform with inmate’s religious dietary requirements (Canada needs Sheriff Joe) to name just a couple.  Their favorite, albeit feeble, excuse is ‘the Charter made us do it’, rather like the mythical boogiemen that children invent to explain the broken vase or mud tracked on the living room carpet.  Whether or not Corrections Canada has a duty to supply ice cream or special meals may be debatable but what isn’t is their duty to protect the inmates in their charge and keep them safe and their failure in this case may well be criminal negligence.

McGray was serving concurrent life sentences for 6 previous murders and claims he’s good for another 10 that he’s never been charged with.  Despite that, he was moved from a maximum security prison to Mountain Prison, a medium security institution.  According to evidence at the Inquest several assessments were done on McGray, one of which put him in the medium security range, but barely.  We don’t know what the other assessments said but it’s safe to assume they weren’t glowing.  As bad as this was, they went a step further and bunked him with the hapless Mr. Phillips claiming that a thorough assessment determined it was safe to do so.  In his confession, McGray told his interrogators that the murder was the inevitable consequence of his mental health issues and blamed Corrections for putting him there in the first place because, after all, he’s a psychopath with an insatiable desire to kill.  Unlike the people who put him there and served up his victim for him, McGray ‘gets it’.

And the justification for all of this?  Assistant Warden Brenda Lamm testified that McGray was “committed to his correction plan” and “he was performing very well” which in Corrections terms means that he wasn’t charged with any violent behavior in the 9 months prior to his transfer.  She then went on to say (with a straight face no less) “I believe he was making a sincere effort.  I don’t believe that he manipulated the staff”.  Cue the sound of snorting guffaws.  Somewhere, the ghosts of Trudeau & Goyer are high-fiving each other and yelling “You go girl!  You tell those Neanderthals!”

For those unfamiliar with Corrections parlance, a ‘corrections plan’ is a strategy designed to prepare an inmate for re-integration into society which makes sense in most cases but a six-time serial killer who’s on record as saying he will kill again?  These people have watched too many Father Flannigan movies and don’t seem to understand that there is such a thing as a bad boy and while the majority of convicts will be released, those like McGray need to be put away forever, in maximum security, and ‘re-integration’ shouldn’t even be a consideration.  As bad as McGray’s case is, there are 14 other multiple murderers who are also housed at Mountain Prison.  Awaiting ‘re-integration’.

Phillips’ mother, Lela, told the Inquest that the Corrections officials who put her son in this situation should be fired.  I commend her on her charity because most would feel those officials should be on the other side of the bars but in typical fashion 5 uniformed guards were disciplined (scapegoated) for failing to realize Phillips was dead until McGray told them he was.

The whole thing was best summed up by Brian Murray, an inmate who testified he warned the staff that McGray shouldn’t be bunked with anyone else.  Asked by Coroner’s counsel whether he was surprised at the murder, Murray compared it to putting a pot of water on the stove and being surprised when it boils.   Incredibly, of all of those involved, most with degrees and good salaries, the only ones who appear to see the problem here are a couple of convicts, one of whom is a psycho killer.

What needs to be remembered is that policy and direction come from the top and while Trudeau et al may have been the original architects of this madness, Jeremy Phillips’ death occurred on the watch of a ‘law & order’ government that long ago pledged to end it and has had plenty of time to do so.

Article Footer for Bob Cooper