KENTVILLE, NS - The Parole Board of Canada’s appeal division has upheld a board decision from earlier this year to deny day parole to a North Kentville man serving a federal sentence for sex crimes involving children.
The board’s appeal division reviewed a Jan. 16 decision to deny day parole to Jason Troy Pitts, 42, at a hearing held on June 13.
“Mr. Pitts, the appeal division finds that you have not raised any grounds that would cause it to intervene in the board’s decision to deny your day parole,” the written decision states.
Pitts pleaded guilty in October 2014 to charges of making, possessing and accessing child pornography and to eight counts of conspiring to commit sexual assault on a child.
At sentencing, the court heard that Pitts was involved in an online web streaming organization where he was communicating with individuals in the Philippines. Pitts was having children perform sexual acts with other children or with women for money.
There were five or six live shows and, in two instances, Pitts recorded these on his computer. Pitts had a collection of child porn images and videos aside from the recordings of the live shows. Police reported more than 50 money transfers between Pitts and his contacts abroad between January 2011 and April 2012.
Pitts was sentenced on Feb. 4, 2015, to five years on the conspiracy charges and two years for making, possessing and accessing child porn.
The appeal division considered Pitts’s submissions that the board based its January decision on erroneous information with regard to the details of his offending and whether or not Pitts was in direct contact with the victims. It notes that Pitts has stated that he’s working on having this information corrected.
With regard to Pitts’s submissions that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) did not fully complete the community assessment requested by the board, it is the jurisdiction of CSC to carry out the assessment and not that of the board. The board does not have jurisdiction to correct information, therefore Pitts’s submissions on this subject were not considered for the purposes of the appeal.
Pitts submitted that he never stated that he was no longer interested in pursuing psychological counselling and that he was told he was a low priority for these services.
He also submitted that the board did not have all the information required about his community resources. Pitts said his last parole hearing was adjourned in order to determine whether or not community supports were available to him but that these community assessments were never completed despite having been requested by the board.
The role of the appeal division is not to reassess the issue of risk to re-offend and substitute its discretion for that of the original decision makers unless it finds that the decision was unreasonable and unsupported by the information available at the time the decision was made.
In Pitts’s case, the appeal division found that it was reasonable for the board to have concluded that his risk would be undue while on day parole and that the board’s decision was based on reliable, relevant and persuasive information. The board’s written reasons indicate it considered both positive and negative elements in its analysis. The board concluded that Pitts has made some progress in addressing his risk factors and that he did participate in core programming.
However, the board found that Pitts’s release plan was not sufficient considering his risk and needs and that despite making progress, this was recent and untested outside of a medium-security facility. The board’s written reasons note that Pitts’s reintegration potential is assessed as low, which is why a community assessment was not initially completed.
With regard to Pitts’s submission that he was not given the opportunity to participate in psychological counselling, the appeal division found that this was not a determining factor in the board’s decision. While the board does state that Pitts needs to do more in the way of programming and change, the board does not specify what form this might take. The appeal division found that the board’s conclusion is reasonable based on this information and the board’s analysis.
The appeal division found that community assessments were conducted for Pitts. The first was locked on March 17, 2015, and indicates that Pitts has the support of a family member but that the individual may not be able to offer accommodation depending on health concerns at the time of Pitts’s release.
The results of a second community assessment locked on Dec. 11, 2017, were that local community based residential facilities, a community corrections centre and the police were not supportive of Pitts’s release.
While the appeal division found that Pitts’s community supports were not contacted for the purposes of the second community assessment, it was reasonable for the board to have found that his release plan was not sufficient. There were no resources willing to accommodate Pitts on day parole at the time the review was conducted and his reintegration potential remained assessed as low.
The written decision also pointed out that at the start of his hearing, Pitts was asked if he was ready to proceed and he indicated that he was. At no time during the hearing did Pitts indicate that he wanted to either postpone the hearing or for the board to adjourn.