Will Bernardo, the ‘Scarborough Rapist’, be set free?

The nation was shocked when the news first broke in the early ‘90s about a couple from Scarborough who were abducting, raping, and killing young girls. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka are famous convicted serial killers from Canada.

Bernardo, known as the ‘Scarborough Rapist’ was convicted in 1995 of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Kristen French, Leslie Mahaffy, and his wife’s own sister Tammy-Lyn Homolka. Now 20 years later, the convicted killer is applying for day parole.

Paul Bernardo should be denied parole.

After his trial, Bernardo confessed to raping 14 other women. Rather than going through another trial, the Crown declared him a “dangerous offender” which classifies Bernardo under Canada’s most violent criminals and sexual predators. Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

According to the Parole Board of Canada, Bernardo has the right to appeal for parole under Section 5 of the Justice Board: Maximum Duration.

Bernardo became eligible for day parole in February, 2015, according to Parole Board of Canada. Day parole would allow Bernardo to leave the prison during set times and participate in community activities, under the condition of returning at night.

Bernardo’s parole hearing is set for March, 2017.

In Canada, dangerous offenders are allowed to apply for day parole three years before their full parole eligibility date. Legally, Bernardo is eligible to apply even if his chances of being granted parole are slim.

During Bernardo’s sentence back in 1995, the Associate Chief Justice, Patrick LeSage, called Bernardo a “sexually sadistic psychopath” and said he should spend his life in prison.

Tim Danson, lawyer of Bernardo’s victims and families, spoke to the CBC in October saying, “I am confident that Paul Bernardo will never get parole.”

The Parole Board has a recent amendment, Bill C-53 Life Means Life Act., which may have a position in Bernardo’s hearing in March. According to Parliament of Canada, Bill C-53 amends the Criminal Code for dangerous offenders, convicted murderers, and prisoners of high treason, making their life sentences mandatory without parole. It allows the judge to make the decision if the criminal fits description of Bill C-53.

Bernardo should be denied parole. Danson told the CBC, the victim’s families are still concerned 20 years later. His dangerous offender status should keep him locked up for the remainder of his life.

There have been cases similar to the Bernardo’s, and in most of these cases, the dangerous offender ended up with life in prison or has died in prison.  Clifford Olson, known as ‘The Beast of B.C.’ was a child serial killer in 1982 and was deemed a dangerous offender. He spent 30 years behind bars and was denied parole. Olson died in prison in September of 2011.

Another example is the case of Emanuel Jaques, or ‘The Shoe Shine Kid’ of Toronto in 1977. Convicted murderer Robert Kribs plead guilty to Jaque’s murder. Kribs was denied parole and died in prison in April 2003. Joseph Woods was also convicted, pleaded for release, and was denied every time in 1995, 1996, 1998, and in 2000.

Bernardo’s ex-wife Karla Homolka, was released from prison in 2005. She was never labelled as a dangerous offender and according to the CBC, Canadians are still outraged by her freedom. Bernardo IS labeled as such and many Canadians have already expressed concern for his parole hearing and his chance at freedom.

Most criminals designated as dangerous offenders have died in prison – as should Bernardo. Bernardo should not be granted parole because of this designation. But more importantly, Bernardo should be kept behind bars for the safety and concerns of women, not just in Canada, but everywhere.