Recaptured Dorchester prisoner a notorious Halifax escape artist with violent history

An inmate who escaped from Dorchester Penitentiary on Saturday night is serving a total sentence of nearly 42 years for numerous crimes, including a string of violent robberies in Nova Scotia that included an attempted murder, and has a history of escaping custody.But he was known by another name at the time.In a news release early Sunday morning, the Correctional Service of Canada said staff at the minimum-security unit of the prison noticed Jermaine Browne “was not accounted for” shortly after 8:30 p.m., and he was recaptured by RCMP at 10 p.m. Jermaine Browne, also known as Jermaine Carvery, is pictured here in 2008, the same year he escaped from Nova Scotia jail guards. (N.S. Department of Justice)On Tuesday morning, Sophia Doiron, a spokesperson for the correctional service, told CBC News that Browne “is the same person as Jermaine Carvery.”Doiron did not respond to questions about why the news release about his escape made no mention of his previous name.’The stuff of Hollywood’ In 2013, Browne, then known as Carvery, was sentenced by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to 25 years for three robberies in 2004 at a Costco in Halifax, TRA Atlantic Cash & Carry in Truro and Chrissy’s Trading Post in Hammonds Plains, and a fourth in 2006 at the ATM Direct Cash Group in Dartmouth.Crown prosecutor Shauna Macdonald had recommended a life sentence for Browne, who was already serving 16 years for robberies he committed in Toronto. She described him as a “professional criminal” who had 39 prior offences. He and his accomplices stole more than $1 million in cash and goods, including cigarettes, none of which had been recovered, she said.The Costco case, which saw more than 40 employees bound and gagged, herded like into a trailer and held at gunpoint by masked men, was “the stuff of Hollywood” and “an act of urban terrorism,” Macdonald told the court.2008 daylight escape in downtown HalifaxBrowne is perhaps best known for his daylight escape from shackles in downtown Halifax in April 2008 while awaiting trial.He was being transported from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth to the Victoria General Hospital for day surgery when he managed to slip out of his ankle shackles in the back of a corrections van, then bolt past an unarmed guard while still handcuffed.Browne, whom police warned was dangerous, eluded authorities for more than two months before being arrested at a motel in Ontario’s Niagara Region.Only low-risk offenders in minimum securityThe Correctional Service of Canada spokesperson declined to say when or why Browne was deemed a good candidate for the minimum-security unit at Dorchester, which also has a medium-security unit, citing privacy and the current investigation.But “only those offenders who are assessed as having a low risk to public safety can be placed in a minimum-security institution,” Doiron said.According to the government website, minimum-security inmates must also be rated “low” for escape risk and for required degree of supervision and control within the institution.The minimum-security environment, where the perimeter is “clearly defined but not normally directly controlled,” enabling previous escapees to merely “walk away,” plays a very important role in the process of reintegrating offenders back into the community and helping them become law-abiding citizens,” Doiron said.Browne’s current warrant expiry date — when his sentence ends and he must be released from custody — isn’t until July 25, 2050.Move to minimum security premature?”One could question whether or not [his] move to minimum security was premature,” said Michael Boudreau, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.”Now, of course, we say that with the advantage of hindsight,” he said.Boudreau noted prison escapes in Canada are “fairly rare.” More federal inmates die in custody than escape, he said.Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University, said Correctional Service Canada could decide to move Browne back to medium security, or even maximum, following a risk reassessment. (CBC)The escape could point to a mistake in assessment of Browne’s risk level, he said.Correctional Service Canada regularly assesses all inmates to ensure they are placed at the appropriate security level, according to Doiron.”One of the main factors that we take into account when considering the transfer of inmates to lower-security level facilities is the progress made in addressing the needs identified in their correctional plan, which outlines what they must do to address the factors that led to their criminal behaviour,” she said, declining again to discuss any specifics.In 2013, Browne told the court his crimes were fuelled by gambling and apologized to his victims.When an escaped offender is recaptured, a new risk assessment is conducted “to ensure they continue to be placed in an institution with the appropriate security level,” she said, noting Browne could also face new charges.Vague public advisory questionedAsked why Browne’s escape was not announced until after he was recaptured, Doiron replied: “To make local residents aware of this escape, the RCMP issued a post to let locals know to avoid the area.”The New Brunswick RCMP social media post at 9:39 p.m. said only: “#RCMPNB is responding to a police operation in the #Dorchester area. Please avoid the area to allow the police to work. We will provide an update when we are able.”The vague post raised concerns among some residents on social media. “This is a prison village. Folks are quite alarmed,” one woman wrote.”What area should people avoid? That announcement was pointless,” another replied. Are they being transparent enough with members of the local community to really convey to them the extent to which there is, or is not, a threat to public safety?- Michael Boudreau, criminology professorBoudreau said he agrees with the commenters. While prison escapes are rare, they do happen and “send a sense of fear throughout the community.”Nova Scotia RCMP “have made some strides” in improving their alerting system, as recommended by the Mass Casualty Commission following the 2020 shootings that killed  22 people, said Boudreau.”But [this escape] does raise the question about the New Brunswick RCMP in terms of their level of of issuing alerts. Are they being effective enough? And more importantly, are they being transparent enough with members of the local community to really convey to them the extent to which there is, or is not, a threat to public safety?”New Brunswick RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Hans Ouellette did not respond to questions about why the advisory did not clearly state an inmate had escaped.”At the time, the incident did not meet the criteria to issue an Alert Ready message,” he said in an emailed statement.”The RCMP was preparing follow-up public communications when the inmate was located and arrested, without incident.”

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