Convicted criminals serving a sentence in Manitoba are now spending less time in custody because of a new ‘early release’ program.
Global News has learned inmates are being released on temporary absences if they have less then two months remaining in their sentence and no probation. This is on top of the early release inmates are given after 2/3 of their sentence has been completed.
“It’s just a mass release right now,” said one source who Global News has agreed not to identify. “They aren’t helping these guys reintegrate. They are just letting them out.”
The new program, which started two weeks ago, is called the Responsible Reintegration Initiative (RRI).
“They are going to look at anybody who has two months left and just go through the paperwork,” they said. “The overcrowding is not that bad. I’ve seen a lot worse.”
Shortly after Global News questioned the province about the program, a spokesperson issued a release announcing the new initiative. However, the province failed to include the fact prisoners were being let out of jail early.
A memo obtained by Global News said “the RRI involves releasing eligible offenders into the community on a Temporary Absence (TA) before the expiration of their sentence. The period will be a maximum of 60 days.”
“For sure the public should be concerned,” the source said. “(Offenders) are just getting out. I’m worried about all the victims and what they’ve gone through.”
The province said RRI is a new model for probation services as part of the province’s strategy to reform the criminal justice system.
Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said the initiative will allow for better reintegration services for offenders upon their release from custody.
“This initiative is part of a broader approach to criminal justice system reform that includes crime prevention, restorative justice and responsible reintegration,” Stefanson said.
“Through these efforts, our government has committed further resources to community-based programs that help end cycles of crime and destruction in our communities.”
Information not included in the formal media release but obtained by Global News states RRI was introduced at Headingley Correctional Center (HCC), the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) and Milner Ridge Correctional Centre (MRCC).
Sources told Global News dozens of prisoners have already been released since the program was brought in two weeks ago.