Opinion: British Columbia man’s mother stabbed to death angry over killer’s imminent release – Cloverdale Reporter
While Doug Brisso’s killer was stabbing him in the chest on Chilliwack Street five years ago, the man shouted “Why don’t you die!”
Kirkland stabbed Russell the Good Samaritan 14 times on July 7, 2017.
Berso came to the aid of Russell’s girlfriend, Bobby Boris, who had somehow been stabbed. That’s when Russell turned on Brysso and killed him.
Minutes before Brysso was stabbed, another man, Stephen Drage, was killed in a knife attack near Russell and his friends. No witnesses saw the attack, so no one was charged in the case.
He was drunk, dangerous and violent, and his extreme drunkenness that night was a factor reducing his intent, ruling out second degree murder. Russell pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison, a horrific slap in the face for Bressow’s mother, Barbara Bressow.
“Our grief over the loss of our beloved Doug is now compounded by this appalling injustice,” she said after the March 2019 ruling.
That shock and grief was compounded even more in 2022 as Barbara learned about two elements of criminal sentencing in British Columbia that many people may not know about. They are credit for service time and legal release.
In all but the most serious cases, offenders residing in places like the Surrey Pre-Trial Center are given time-to-conviction credit at a rate of 1.5 days to 1 day. So, in the case of Kirkland Russell, he spent 594 days, or 1 year and 229 days, in remand. So he was subtracted from his eight-year sentence of 891 days, or two years and 161 days.
“I really have a problem with this concept,” Brisso told me recently.
So why is this the case? This is partly because pretrial detention centers do not offer programs to assist offenders like prisons, but also because they are not fun. The conditions in these places are said to be appalling.
Bresso is unsympathetic.
“I’m like, ‘Wah, wah,’ really? What on our terms? Getting out early is a gift.”
“The time-and-a-half build-up is very frustrating for me and I think it’s disrespectful to victims and survivors.”
The other element of criminal justice sentencing that many people who have no connection with the system may not be familiar with, and to some extent related to the first element, is legal release. Unless they are sentenced to life imprisonment or classified as a serious or long-term offender, no offender will serve even close to their sentence behind bars.
After two-thirds of each punishment whether for sexual assault, theft, or manslaughter has been passed, the offenders are released into the community to serve the final third of their sentence.
“Legal release is mandatory release by law,” according to VictimsInfo.ca, an online resource site for victims of crime in British Columbia “On legal release, offenders are required to follow standard conditions that include informing a parole officer, remaining within geographical boundaries, and obeying the law and the keeping of peace.”
Like parole (or bail), violations may mean the offender goes back to prison, but this rarely happens. One of the reasons offenders get 1.5 to 1 credit in pretrial detention, is because of statutory release.
Not a single official tells the media when an offender is outside the scope of legal release, but the calculations are not difficult and they have done so. Russell was sentenced to an additional 1,303 days in prison on March 6, 2019, which means his legal release must come after 1,353 days. So 365 days to March 2020, 730 to 2021, and 1095 to 2022. Add up the rest and subtract 1 day of a leap year, and I think it comes out on November 19.
“I can’t believe how short these sentences are,” Barbara said.
Russell had over 50 convictions to his name before he killed Doug Briseau, but he’ll be back on the streets in a few weeks.
“People need to know that there are criminals on our streets who are rated at a high vulnerability to violence and a high risk of sexual assault,” Barbara said. “They are walking our streets now and there will be another in November. It is not good.”
She advocates for change in the criminal justice system to better protect all of us from repeat offenders being treated with gloved children in British Columbia. Nowhere else in the country are perpetrators of violence given such reduced sentences or so easily released on bail.
Barbara wants people to know how the perpetrators and victims are treated in our system, and she wants people to help her try to change things.
Everyone is angry on Facebook. You might feel good about complaining on Facebook, but it won’t get you anywhere. Type in the provincial and federal prosecutors.
“If I do nothing, nothing will change.”
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