Paul Bernardo’s transfer to a medium-security facility has led to questions surrounding whether the move will mean new freedoms for the serial killer.
Bernardo was moved from a maximum-security prison at Millhaven Institution near Kingston to La Macaza Institution in Quebec last week.
His life sentence and designation as a dangerous offender are tied to the kidnap, rape, torture and murders of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French in the early 1990s near St. Catharines.
Shane Martinez, an adjunct professor of prison law at Osgoode Hall Law School, told CTV News Toronto that in medium-security prisons, people have more “mobility and opportunity.”
He said at a medium-security facility, prisoners can roam around, spend less time locked-up, and have more programming and employment options at the institution.
This is compared to a maximum-security facility, where Bernardo previously spent 23 hours per day in a cell, according to CTV News public safety analyst Chris Lewis.
“That'll all change in the medium (security prison),” he said.
“It’s just more relaxed. We’re not talking Club Med here by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a more relaxed environment,” Lewis said.
However, Martinez still called the security at a medium-security facility “significant,” even though it might be less so than at a maximum-security prison.
La Mascaza, which is located right beside Mont Tremblant International Airport, is a stand-alone facility built on an open campus model with a capacity of 240 inmates, according to Correctional Service of Canada. The federal organization called it a “secure and controlled institution – with every precaution in place to maintain public safety.”
“It is important to know that medium security facilities have the same perimeter controls as maximum security institutions (high fences, armed controls, armed correctional officers equipped with proper security equipment etc.) These facilities are strictly guarded 24/7, inmate movement is controlled, and we have rigorous security protocols.”
Martinez said the environments of medium and maximum-security facilities are definitely different. “But for him, I have a hard time seeing the experience being marked as different given how he is going to be isolated,” he said.
From his perspective, Martinez said it’s “relatively safe to presume” Bernardo will be kept in isolation.