MP calls for more changes to prison system after 2 escaped inmates charged with Metchosin murder

MP calls for more changes to prison system after 2 escaped inmates charged with Metchosin murder
WatchMP Randall Garrison says while changes have been made at William Head prison, the government needs to go further to keep communities safe. April Lawrence reports.

Some tough questions are being asked about William Head Institution in Metchosin after two of its inmates were charged with first-degree murder over the weekend.

Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch escaped from William Head last July. Five days later, 60-year-old Metchosin father Martin Payne’s body was found at his home eight kilometres away. His truck was gone.

“It is good to see the justice system is going to proceed after what was, probably for everyone involved, too long a police investigation but hopefully that means that justice will be served,” said Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison.

READ MORE: Metchosin mayor seeks change after two escaped inmates charged with murdering local man

One Victoria lawyer says a charge of first rather than second-degree murder indicates there is evidence either a murder has been planned or has been committed along with certain other crimes including kidnapping and unlawful confinement.

“If you could establish that the person was unlawfully confined in the course of a transaction that eventually resulted in murder you could end up with a conviction for first degree,” said lawyer Michael Mulligan.

While details surrounding Payne’s death are vague, it has left family, friends and an entire community in grief and calling for change.

Corrections Canada says it has made changes since Busch and Armitage’s escape, including reviewing the status of all minimum-security inmates, improving the assessment process for transfers, and faster community notification for potential escapes.

But Garrison says even greater change is needed.

“The government really has to take its responsibility seriously over making sure they have adequate facilities in the maximum and medium security prisons so that it takes away this pressure on the entire system to push people down to minimum security institutions before they’re ready or who should never end up there,” he said.

Busch and Armitage will be back in court July 23. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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