'System needs an overhaul': Father of Tori Strafford on one of killers transfer to healing lodge
The father of murder victim Victoria "Tori" Stafford is speaking out after learning that one of the people convicted in his daughter’s brutal death has now been moved to a “healing lodge” in Saskatchewan.
Victoria Stafford was eight years old in 2009 when she was lured from her school in Woodstock, Ont. and then driven to a field where she was sexually assaulted and murdered.
Michael Rafferty is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2012 of kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder.
Terri-Lynne McClintic, Rafferty’s former girlfriend, has been serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder for her part in Stafford’s killing.
McClintic, now 28, had been serving her sentence at Grand Valley Institution for women in Kitchener.
However Victoria Stafford’s father, Rodney Stafford, told CTV News Kitchener Tuesday that he learned about a month-and-a-half ago that McClintic was transferred to Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Saskatchewan last December.
According to Correctional Service Canada, the rural facility focuses on healing incarcerated Aboriginal women.
“My main thought is ‘where’s our justice system going wrong?’” Rodney Stafford said. “Our system needs an overhaul. Somebody in a maximum security facility should not be granted lesser security unless they’ve met all the criteria down the road that they’ve had to follow.”
In 2012 McClintic pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm after injuring another inmate in an attack which the Crown called “completely unprovoked.”
CP24.com reached out to the Correctional Service of Canada for comment, but citing privacy concerns, a spokesperson said they could not discuss any specific case. However spokesperson Esther Mailhot said in general, the decision to transfer an offender is based in part on the security level that they require.
“The offender's security level is based on three factors: how the offender will adjust to the institution, the risk of escape and public safety,” Mailhot wrote in an email. “The transfer of an offender to a lower security level depends on their progress at the current level.”
Mailhot said an inmate must require a low degree of supervision and control within the institution in order to be eligible for transfer to a lower security facility.
“A transfer to lower security allows the inmate to experience responsibilities to prepare for reintegration into the community,” she wrote. “CSC regularly assesses the risks presented by all offenders to ensure that they are placed at the appropriate security level.”
But calling their crimes “heinous,” Rodney Stafford said McClintic and Rafferty shouldn’t be treated like ordinary criminals.
“She’s having a better life than the majority of people living out on the streets right now,” Rodney Stafford said. “It’s just not right.”
Rodney Stafford said that while a healing lodge might be a useful place for some incarcerated people, he thinks those who have harmed vulnerable individuals should not have the option.
“It's about the vulnerable section where you have people who are killing children, killing handicap, killing elderly, people who are killing disabled. It's not right. These people should be held at a higher level than the common day criminal,” he said.
Rodney Stafford said the move has left him upset, frustrated and angry and he’s planning a protest in Ottawa on Nov. 02.
Speaking about his daughter, Stafford said he believes that she would want him to fight for her.
“She’s my daughter and I will do everything I can to stand up for her,” Stafford said. “It’s not just about Victoria now, this is about everybody and everybody’s children.”
- With files from CP24.com Reporter Chris Herhalt and The Canadian Press