Some quick, sad, math

Last weekend, I wrote about chronic offender/public nuisance Perry Antoine, his release from prison and his upcoming fight with the province over the peace bond justice officials want to put him on for the next two years to try and keep him in check.

The background is all in the story. And it’s quite possible that now, at age 52 and confined largely to a wheelchair, Mr. Antoine won’t reoffend again.

But today, it occurred to me to look more closely at his record since 1979, since he became an adult, and do some math.

In that time, his record notates he’s done 5,746 days behind bars (just shy of 16 years) since ’79.

Using the recently cited provincial inmate housing costs of $174 a day to keep him in custody, that equals:

 $1,005,550 — simply to keep him in jail in that time. (This is low-balled. See *note below on why — factoring in federal prison costs would bring us to a staggering $1,610,109).

That’s not counting the cost to the taxpayer for police to arrest and process him, nor the cost to prosecute or judge him.

That’s simply to keep him detained.

More importantly, that doesn’t count the cost of probation services.

Since 1979, he’s been given the equivalent of 16.5 years worth of probation across various orders.

(Let’s say for the sake of argument he had one appointment a week at an arbitrary cost of $75 for 858 weeks. that’s $64,350).

I couldn’t tell you what the actual value of that in terms of dollars would be, but probation officers — especially the ones working the highest-risk offenders — don’t come cheap. The actual cost is much, much higher, no doubt.

Going forward, there will be more probation costs incurred as the Criminal Organization High Risk Offenders Unit (COHROU) are the Corrections unit tasked with hawking him now that he’s free.

Neither does it count the cost of storing Mr. Antoine in the drunk tank, nor the hospital visits or community health services.

Nor the victim services.

I’d peg the dollar cost to society of dealing with Mr. Antoine at well over $2 million since he turned 18.

While that’s huge, especially since he’s just one chronic offender in a province with many of them, the greater concern to me is the loss of human potential. What a seeming waste of a precious lifetime.

The other thorny issue is how despite our ‘investment’ over the years in Mr. Antoine’s — and society’s — safety and well-being, not much seems to have changed for that.

Something to ponder.


* naturally, he’d be earning parole at some points along the way in both provincial and federal systems. But any decrease in time spent would be counterbalanced by the fact it costs double to house an inmate in the federal system [where he recently served each and every day of an 8-year bit] That cost, Stats Can says, is $357 a day (2010-11 data). Factoring in that figure, it’s $1,610,109. Trust me, I’m a journalist.

[EDIT to correct date of Stats Can data]

Sinclair Inquest: Missing ER footage stretches logic

130806 sinclair03.JPGMaybe it’s the residual skepticism in me over the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry debacle surrounding  missing and/or shredded supervisor’s notes from the murdered little girl’s CFS involvement.

But when I read tonight that six minutes of security cam footage from the HSC ER are missing — at the precise time Brian Sinclair was discovered dead — a wave of awfulness came upon me.

Read this CBC Manitoba story here.  Pay careful attention to how the headline says HSC officials “explain” missing footage at Sinclair inquest.

Here’s the CBC fact box in full, emphasis mine.

Missing footage

On Tuesday, the inquest heard six minutes of tape from the emergency room at the Health Sciences Centre, where Sinclair died, was missing from evidence. The six minutes were the precise time staff realized Sinclair was dead. That revelation was made by the Sinclair family’s lawyer. The officer in charge or reviewing the footage said he had not previously noticed the five minutes were missing until the lawyer pointed it out.

The inquest heard a security guard realized Sinclair was not breathing and took him to get help. He was pronounced dead at 12:51 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2008. The security camera footage is missing from 12:47 a.m. to about 12:53 a.m.

In testimony heard later in the afternoon, Norman Schatz, the co-ordinator of investigations and staff development for HSC, told the inquest the cameras activate via a motion sensor. He said he “assumed there was no motion during those six minutes.”

However, right before the camera cuts off and when it resumes taping, motion can be seen in the corners of the frame. (Again, credit to the CBC for this)

This raises many profoundly disturbing questions to me. Here’s just two  three small things to think about.

1] Consider the ‘lack of motion’ aspect — in the ER of ostensibly Manitoba’s busiest 24-hour hospital early on a cool, but pleasant early 10C Sunday morning in the fall . Am I supposed to really believe that for six minutes, nothing moved in that room to trigger the cameras? ( I wonder what the 911 call log looks like around that time? It was Saturday night just before Sinclair died waiting for care, after all, and we all know Winnipeg on a Saturday night). 

2] A Winnipeg cop, a veteran investigator who worked homicides and was seconded to conduct the police investigation into Sinclair’s death, testified he spent roughly 500 hours (That’s 20.83 full days of life) reviewing the footage from the ER but didn’t notice the missing 5-6 minutes until the lawyer for the Sinclair family advised him of it in court today. He investigated the case for a year. No charges ever came of his findings, which the public will never know much about anyway.

3] [Added at 9:46 p.m. after original posting] It’s interesting how in the above CBC text, the HSC co-ordinator of investigations is directly quoted as saying he “assumed” there was no motion, hence no footage of around the time Sinclair died. That “assumed” word gives me pause. Didn’t the HSC investigations co-ordinator review the whole tape?

I’ve read multiple media accounts of today’s inquest proceedings. They all basically say the same thing.

But the one question not really being asked is this: Is it remotely credible that innocently, in one of Manitoba’s most concerning health-care related cases ever — one everyone’s had years to prepare for the onslaught of scrutiny this inquest would bring — that there’s missing camera footage, or missing documents? [More missing stuff here].

Again, maybe it’s just Phoenix and the gaps in logic and process seen there coming back to rattle me.

But I just can’t accept this. It really, really troubles me.

It should trouble you too.


EDIT: 8:55 p.m. to clarify lead sentence somewhat.

EDIT 9:45 p.m. to add third question.

The Wire prompts Baltimore university course

What can be learned from the hit TV show ‘The Wire’?

Well, Johns Hopkins University seems to think there’s something there.

Interestingly, the school isn’t using the show as a backdrop to a course in Criminology or public policy.

Instead, the course is about public health.

Hopefully, it’ll go up on iTunes U. Would be worth following along.

CBC News – Television – The Wire prompts Baltimore university course.