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Seeking truth in sentencing

Oshawa resident launches online petition calling on federal government to change how it tells victims of crime how long offender is behind bars

Oshawa MP Colin Carrie looks on as Lisa Freeman officially adds her name to the petition she launched. Freeman is calling on the federal government to be more honest and transparent in the conviction certificates it releases after the man who was convicted of killing her father in 1991 was permitted escorted absences from jail in 2012, four years before he was eligible to apply for parole.

Oshawa MP Colin Carrie looks on as Lisa Freeman officially adds her name to the petition she launched. Freeman is calling on the federal government to be more honest and transparent in the conviction certificates it releases after the man who was convicted of killing her father in 1991 was permitted escorted absences from jail in 2012, four years before he was eligible to apply for parole.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

When the man who killed her father was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, Lisa Freeman and her family thought they would not have to worry about him until 2016.

Freeman and the rest of the family moved on as well as one can following the sudden death of a loved one. However, in 2011, Freeman received a letter saying John Terrance Porter, the man convicted in the 1991 death of Roland Slingerland, had applied for escorted absences from prison.

“Despite the certificate saying 25 years before parole, the parole board was actually contradicting what was there. Not only was he eligible for escorted temporary absences, unescorted ones as well, day parole, working in the community with his history of violence protected,” Freeman says.

“All of that was just wrong.”

It was because of this, and seeing Porter’s rights as being put before that of her family’s that Freeman decided enough was enough, and launched a petition to change how conviction certificates are handled.

Freeman says more honesty is needed, as 25 years before being able to apply for parole does not mean an offender will necessarily be behind prison walls the whole time.

“It’s moved beyond my dad’s murder and it’s moved beyond the man who killed him. The purpose is to create awareness and ask the government for a reasonable change to certificates of conviction,” she says.

“I’m asking the government to amend the certificates and clarify literature so that families of crime are not caught up like we were all those years ago. I’m a firm believer that truth in sentencing should be given in these certificates of conviction because at the end of the day, they’re our comfort. They were my family’s comfort all those years ago.”

One of the supporters for Freeman’s petition is Oshawa MP Colin Carrie, who says the rights of victims need to be put ahead of those of criminals.

“This is an issue many people don’t understand. As Lisa was saying, when they say 25 years, a victim’s family is expecting that. And to have a shock come to your mailbox, and you know that this person could be out, could be in your neighbourhood, before the time they’re supposed to stay in prison, this is something if we can do better, we need to do better.”

The petition is available online at petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-378, and will be open for signatures until Sept. 27.