Saturday, May 12, 2012

Karla Homolka: The Stephen Williams Letters

Journalist, author, and accused enemy of the state Stephen Williams struck up a fascinating conversation-by-mail with Karla Homolka while she was serving out her sentence for the kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder of two Ontario teenagers. The series of letters was to be the backbone of a book deal he had entered into as a follow-up to his acclaimed best-seller, Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

"I was exuberant until I realized that in spite of the things I had discovered this new book for which I had just signed a contract could not be written unless Karla talked to me. And frankly I was the last person on earth that she would ever talk to.
As she said in her first startling letter to me: 'Well, they say ‘never say never’ and they’re right. Never in a million years did I think that I would ever write a letter to anyone from the media, let alone you who has treated me so harshly.'"

But Karla did write a letter to Stephen Williams; a multitude of them, in fact. Her flair for the dramatic, along with hefty doses of self-righteousness are evident in her missives to him. She does not mince words as she describes to him her perceptions of the complex and often highly political inner-workings of the Canadian correctional system, particularly as it relates to female offenders. In other letters, she describes (in nauseating detail) her life on the inside, which, by all accounts, bore no resemblance to the the image of incarceration most of us hold in our minds.

Here are the letters as they appeared in Williams' fascinating follow-up, Karla: A Pact with the Devil.

Apr 27, 2001

Dear Stephen,

I received your letters this week. I want to thank you for letting me know of Dr. Arndt's death. I had no idea. The world has lost a truly wonderful and compassionate man. He was incredibly helpful to me at a very difficult time as I'm sure you know. It's strange -- just last week I did a "housecleaning" and threw away his card. Perhaps on some level I knew? Things like that happen to me often.

Well, they say "never say never" and they're right. Never in a million years did I think i would ever write a letter to someone from the media, let alone you who has condemned me so harshly. I know you do not consider yourself, one of them, but in my book, you’re all the same. I don't mean to be harsh, but I've been badly burned by all of you.

However, I was raised to be a good girl and good girls write thank you letters.

It means a lot that you thought to let me know about Dr. Arndt. Of course it could be just a ploy, a way to suck me in. Who knows? I've become very suspicious these last eight years and with good reason. I must say, however, that your letter intrigued me. You have some very valid points. It's a shame that nobody wants to hear them. I have not read your book, nor do I wish to. I have heard about it though and I'm curious as to why I should trust you? Have you not already said enough nasty things about me?

Also, while we're on the subject of trust and honesty, why did you write to Stivia Clermont asking for an interview about the mental health unit? Was that just a ploy to get your foot in the door? I'm very curious. Anyways, I think I've said enough for now. You say that you have a great deal more to say than what you said in your letter. I'm curious to hear what it is. By the way, I wish this letter (and the fact that I wrote it) to remain confidential.

Sincerely, Karla

P.S. Please tell Theresa that I read her book Who Killed Ty Conn. It was excellent.

May 29, 2001

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your letter as well as the various newspaper articles enclosed. I did receive your letter of May 4th. I neglected to write back as I am still undecided as to whether or not this is a good idea. I will however answer a few of your simple questions for now.

Regarding J&C rules: All incoming and outgoing mail is checked. It isn't read, but it is looked at to see if it contains contraband. It can only be read at the Warden's order and only under strict conditions. (i.e. they suspect a crime is being planned). And the inmate has to be notified after the fact. Of course, who knows what really goes on. They seem to do whatever they want anyway, regardless of the rules and regulations.

In comparison to Joliette: number of visitors here is restricted -- at Joliette it is unrestricted, but may be if the visit room is full (it never is). Visiting hours in Joliette are Thursday & Friday 6-9 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am-11:30 and 1pm - 4pm. You can have unlimited visits in Joliette. In all prisons (federal) in Canada we're only allowed to receive money as gifts -- officially, that is. Every prison I've been in has treated the mail differently. Joliette is the strictest. If someone sends you a blank piece of paper they'll return it. RPC
allowed paper & stamps. Here they allow regular envelopes, cards, stickers, and paper (in reasonable quantities).

In Joliette -- letters and cards sent to you (signed), That's it. In P4W we had everything. It makes me laugh as how little people know about what goes on in prisons. From what I've seen, they're looser with the rules in max than they are in Joliette. Joliette never deviates from a rule, even if it makes no sense. Every other prison I've been in does.

Yes, I know about George Walker's son Robin. He told me and my family about him, mostly so my parents would realize that George really did understand what they were going through.

Yes, I know about the Internet. It is true that we have no access, but not true that we are not taught Internet access skills. That's a part of a basic (introductory) computer class taught in Joliette. Who told you that they don't teach that in Joliette? I know about the Internet and websites because I read everything I can get my hands on (except newspapers). I've always been like that. Also, good people like you send me stories off the Internet!

Yes, Dr. Williams' report of March 1996 was shared with me. Yes, I have a copy of Dr. Van Gijseghem's report. How is it that you have a copy? It wasn’t in the court file. By the way, since his report, all of the other doctors have ripped him to pieces. Even I - with just a BA in psych - can see the stupid diagnostic errors he made. I would like to see a copy of your letter to Stivia.

France Aubut (woman) is a psychologist on contract at Joliette. I saw her for counselling for about 8 months. Talking to her was like talking to the wall. I don't remember the report, nor do I have it here to consult. It wasn't positive, or really negative. Dr. Rouleau came to me, at the request of Joliette.

She saw all of the so-called sex offenders in Joliette. I didn't like her. 

I don't remember what she looked like or how old she was (too long ago). Her report was full of lies & mistakes. I wasn’t impressed. I tell the truth and it bothers me when others don't. If someone can't even get basic facts correct, what does that say about the rest of what they have to say?

I really like Sharon Williams, the first set of interviews I had with her were long and involved. She took the time to help me deal with some things -- questions -- that I had. She's a very warm, open person. And her reports were fair. I don't have a problem if someone says something negative, as long as it's fair. I don't remember how much time I spent with her for the first report.

The second was probably 5 or 6 hours, in an office in Joliette. Tests were administered both times. The MMPI was done both times. The MCML the second. MAST & DAST, some sex knowledge and  denial/minimization inventories the first. I can't remember all of the names, nor do I have the report with me. There is a mental health unit in Joliette. there has been since 1998 or 1999. They converted the admissions unit to a mental health unit. And now they are in the process of building a "healing house" -- a new mental health unit -- in the back field, my pen died. They only send people they can't deal with to Pinel. the only person that has been given "psychological services" to Joliette from the University of Montreal was Dr. Rouleau (the reports).

Joliette employs two part-time psychiatrists. As for the cats, many women "adopted" them. We have 4 -- two adults that came in and two kittens (off spring of the adults). The cats are free to go anywhere. They do spend most of their time in my unit and one other for reasons unknown. As for Anne-Marie Chartrand. Her comment doesn’t surprise me at all. It's typical of her.

Were you invited to tour a house during your visit? Perhaps not as all tours (except media) tend to visit my unit. Why? Because we walk together as a group the way the administration wants. We also don't embarrass the administration as some units would.

Yes, I still have my own TV. Cable? Ha ha! Women incarcerated in Quebec don't have that privilege! We get CBS, NBC, CBC, CTV, TQS (French), TVA (French), radio-Canada (French), RDI (French), and Super Ecran (French - we pay for this channel). In Joliette we get even fewer channels: CBC, CTV, TQS, TVA -- some houses get Global, but not all. I watch many different programs (Family Law, Law & Order, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Everybody Loves Raymond, Survivor, Passions, Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, Access Hollywood, Friends, Will & Grace, ER...) Occasionally I'll watch Dateline -- if the topic is interesting.

I only watch news if I get a feeling that I should watch it (rare). When I do, it's usually CTV at 11 pm. I don't read newspapers, ever. We have no access to English-language newspapers here -- only in the Journal de Montreal (the worst of the bunch). I read as many books as I can, which is difficult. We're only allowed 5 per week here which I find ridiculous. I do read true crime and crime fiction still, but not exclusively. I have never read that type of book exclusively.

That's another thing that is frustrating. I love all types of books (except for historical novels, and most types of romance). The most recent books I've read are: Caught Up in the Rapture by Shereska Jackson (really enjoyed it), A Painted House by John Grisham (not like his usual books. I loved it -- hope he writes a sequel), the Secret of Shambhala by James Redfield, (the third installment in the Celestine Prophecy -- very good), The Last Dive by Bernie Chowdhury (a gripping account of a fatal dive -- very well written, and From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz (very good - his work is become more spiritual).

I think Van Gijesghem could have done a better job of making me out to be a monster than he did (that's what he was paid to do, after all). I also think that no matter what I do, I can't win. If every tenth book I read is true crime or crime fiction, I'm screwed. So I just don't care. I read what I like to read and that's it.

People are always going to interpret what I do as bad. They'll pick out one bad thing from a sea of good and I'll be judged on that. 

I took two English courses in University (there weren’t many available by correspondence.) One was a writing course and the other was selected women writers. The only book I remember reading was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (I originally read it while in high school - I love it). We read some Virginia Woolf too, but I don't remember which one. My favourite book (I think - I love so many) is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I read it in grade 11 English and have re-read it many times since.

Thanks for your offer to send books. We can't have book sent here. When I go back to Joliette it will be easier as you can donate them to the library and I'll be assured to read them. That's not the case here.

Anyway, I think That's enough for now. I still haven’t decided if this is a good idea (I'm getting some advice from some people I trust) so, as before, all of this is confidential and off the record. Thanks. Also, thanks for the envelopes, even though I didn't receive them.

Sincerely, Karla

June 7, 2001

Dear Stephen,

Your letter disturbed me very much as it's obvious that you have yet to receive the last letter I sent you. I really think they're playing with my mail. My friends in Joliette sometimes go weeks without receiving a letter from me when I normally write several times a week.

Anyway, as you can see, I have enclosed two visitor's application forms for you and Theresa. I don't know if they will be processed in time for the end of June, but I'm hoping so. I have put your phone number on my PIN number and am planning on calling you tomorrow before my private family visit.

I don't know what will come of all of this, but perhaps we can help each other.

I have two people I trust implicitly who would like to be present for our meeting. They are the two I spoke about in my previous letter (the one you haven’t yet received). I trust that you have no problem with that. I believe that they will try to get us a private room for our visit. Hopefully that will be OK as it will otherwise be impossible to talk as the visiting room is about as large as a big bathroom with no privacy! We'll see.

Anyway, I'm hoping that this letter doesn’t take an eternity to reach you. I counsel you to get the visiting application forms in ASAP.

Sincerely, Karla

June 24, 2001

Hi. Thanks for your last letters. I think you are too optimistic about the mail situation: the last one guaranteed to arrive at the latest on June 16, was delivered to me on June 22. They are required (by law) to deliver our mail within 24 hours of receiving it. Anyway...I'm not sure if you are aware or not, but your visitor's application was approved.

I haven’t received notification for Theresa yet. However, I would like to hold off meeting with you for a while. I am still not sure.

And if I don't believe 100% in what I'm doing, I don't do it. 

There are many things I must consider, including the possible repercussions. You think they can't do worse to me, but I know that they can.

I very much enjoyed the biography of John Knowles. Thanks! Also, I noticed in the letter you wrote to Stivia that you speak of a letter on file from Murray Segal recommending my release. Are you certain? If such a letter does exist, I have never seen, nor heard of it.

Take care, Karla

Oct 28, 2001

Dear Stephen,

Hello. I know hit has been an extremely long time since I wrote you. I have to say that I have been thinking about you and reading your letters frequently. I fear that you are trying to manipulate me, especially with your last letter. But, after much thought, I have decided to write back for a few different reasons.

Firstly, I will always remember your words that you wrote your last book with only the information you had. So I take it that I do not deny any allegations you make then I can only hold myself responsible for whatever you write. It is true that I have taken the position of silence from the beginning. Obviously that position has not served me well. And secondly, I still hold some vague hope that you can help me in some way. I still don't know if I can trust you or not. But then again, this is an ongoing problem with me. I have extreme difficulty trusting anyone.

I have to start off by saying that, contrary to the majority of letters you have written, the last one is full of incorrect information. The idea that I want to do my full time so I can get out of prison and have a relationship with Linda is ridiculous. That is the last thing I want. I have said many times that I don't care what conditions I would receive upon release. I would spend three hours a day standing on my head should that be required. Whether you want to believe me or not, the reasons I want to do my whole time are complex.

First of all, the idea that I am terrified for my life is incorrect. 

That is a lawyer and media creation, something that has totally gotten out of hand. The truth is that if I were to be release on statutory release, I would be subject to the condition of meeting regularly with a parole officer. To do that would place my reintegration at risk. As you are fond of saying, I should be able to "disappear" when I am released. If I have to meet with a PO, it makes it too easy for someone to find my whereabouts, and therefore impossible to "disappear".

As well, -- and you may think this to be nothing but a self-serving statement -- I have enough feelings of guilt
and self-hatred that perhaps, maybe if I do my entire sentence rather than just two-thirds of it, I will feel less guilty. If you choose not to believe that, so be it.

For your information, your characterization of my relationship with Linda is absurd. We have been close friends since 1997. I am not the only person from Joliette she visits. And I have never met her sister, nor any other of her family members. Nor do I want to. She is not or has not helped or guided me in any of the decisions that I have made or continue to make. Believe it or not it was lawyers and the Elizabeth Fry society who advised me to do what I did for my ETAs.

I had been told for years to apply for ETAs, but always refused, believing that keeping quiet was better. Finally, I was told in the summer of 1999 by E. Fry that if I didn't apply for them my chances of being detained would increase. At that time, I thought that I would be able to deal with release on my two-thirds and did not want to be detained. So I wrote my application for ETAs two or three times before it was approved by E. Fry and the lawyers. When I handed it in, that was when the reports written by my case management team became negative.

I have two reports, one written the day after the other in which my attitude is discussed. One report is for the purpose of Private Family Visits and describes me as open, respectful of other inmates and staff, and working on every aspect of my correctional plan. The other, written to justify the denial of my ETAs, describes me as demanding and defiant and working on only one aspect of my correctional plan.

There is nothing written anywhere that says that another inmate had undue influence over me. I'm sure Stivia will concur that nobody influences me. I am hypersensitive to people trying to dominate and control me now. Why do you think I refused to see you when you came? I asked you not to show up like that. I told you I wanted a witness there with me.

I perceived you as trying to control me, to throw me off guard, and I backed right off.

I was put in contact with Pascal Lescarbeau by a carceral lawyer who frequently comes to Joliette. She had explained the process to me and said that when Joliette denied my ETAs (as we believed they would), we would apply to the court and they would likely grant them as I met all of the criteria. She told me Pascal had lots of experience in federal court. What she didn't tell me was that he is also her husband. Some referral.

Pascal told me that in federal court we have the option of keeping everything confidential. The lawyer just has to ask, it’s simple as that. You know the old saying "If it seems too good to be true it probably is" ? Well, I should have been thinking of that. When the file was copied to the media I freaked out. Understandably, as I was told it would be confidential. One of the lawyers came to see me (I don't remember which one as there were three involved) and explained that the confidentiality request had not been done.

Now the media was in court asking for permission to print my personal file. I was told the only way I could prevent that was to withdraw my request for my ETAs. So that is exactly what I did. I fired Pascal and hired Marc Labelle on the recommendation of one of those very few people I trust (not an inmate). I was then informed that the Federal Court never even had jurisdiction to grant my ETAs. The only thing they can do is invalidate the CSC's decision and order another CSC employee to make a new decision. Great. Had I known that from the beginning I never would have gone through with anything. I had the misfortune of dealing with incompetent lawyers -- something I had heard over the years, but luckily never experienced myself until this.

Oh, to correct two or more of your inaccuracies: Daniel Cournoyer is not a primary worker, and I met Sylvie Bordelais at Joliette as she used to come there every Wednesday to meet with the women. Nobody introduced me to her -- she introduced herself.

You're right when you say that I don't have a clue what I'm doing. Nobody knows what to do when it comes to me. Every time I meet a new lawyer or a new person dealing with my case, I have to hear about all the wonderful things that are going to happen for me and how I'm going to be able to do this and that. Then when they realize how political everything is, all their plans and ideas turn to dust. I'm tired of it.

I don't know what to do and I don't know who to go to for help. Nobody has dealt with this kind of thing before apparently. So what makes you think you can help me? What expertise do you have? Your big mistake was not in inquiring about Linda. I don't care what you inquire about. It does disappoint me however that all of your so-called information about her appears to have been reproduced from the Toronto Sun or Star (both one and the same to me). Rather, your error was in forcing things by coming here without my consent. I told you clearly that I wanted a witness, someone I trusted, with me and should I choose to see you.

You paid no mind to what I wanted. That made me look yet again at the fragile trust I have in you. It made me think that you were just trying to control the situation, to throw me off guard. I don't like that.

A question: what is the exact website address of "The Karla Homolka Death Pool Guy" website? I mentioned it to a friend who was unable to find it. I am very concerned about the media's interest in me and how to mitigate it. I don't know what to do at all. You are right on that front. I need your help. I don't know how to be sure if you are the right person to help me or not.

Why do you think you know how to help me? Why should I believe you? Why shouldn’t I believe that you are only in this to make a killing on your book deal as the only author ever to speak to me? These are my concerns. I know that nothing I have told you has appeared anywhere. But I also know that you are an intelligent man. I think you are manipulative too. Why should I not think that you are simply waiting me out, trying to get my confidence. Why would you destroy everything now for a few bucks when you can really clean up later on? I just don't know what to think about any of this.

Yes, many things haunt me, including worries about my future. I would like to be left alone with my suffering for once. I know I need some help, but am I making the right decision by trusting you or will I once again be beating myself up later for a wrong judgement call? Unfortunately I just don't have self-confidence anymore. Maybe I'm bearing my soul too much here, I don't know.

Also, writing to you is not a harmless diversion. People here know who you are and I have already been questioned about you. I could pay for this in a big way. They already banished me from Joliette for more than a year for an innocent photo. What could they do to me for this? In jail it seems that the worst sin you can commit is to involve the media in your case. For the staff anyway.

What exactly is it you want from me? I would like you to spell it out. I would also like you to spell out exactly how you are going to help me. The police were going to help me too, that is, until they were finished with me. I don't need the same thing all over again.

I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, enclosed is a little something. As usual, all of this is off the record. You can use the little something, but it cannot be attributed to me.

Sincerely, Karla

Nov 24, 2001 

Dear Stephen,

Hi there. I was very happy to receive your letter the day before yesterday. I had agonized for so long whether or not I should ever write back to you, but when I finally did and sent the letter I couldn't wait for your response.

I decided that I finally had to listen to what my heart was saying. I wanted to trust you. I thought maybe I could. But I have such a hard time knowing what I should do about anything. It is very hard when every little decision you make can have such a large impact on every aspect of your life. I don't think anyone can really understand how my life is. I am afraid to make any decision as I am afraid of the impact it may have. Anyway, I am deciding to trust you. Maybe I am being foolish. I guess one day I'll find out if I am making the right decision or not.

If you screw me over I will be very, very damaged as a result. I am already so damaged I don't think I can take anymore. I want to answer all of your questions except for those things that impact on other people (i.e. the women I live with and have lived with in other prisons). I can talk in general terms, but will tell no names or identifying details. Those women are all paying for their crimes and should not have to pay further because they happen to live or have lived with me.

Privacy is very important to me and I could never compromise other’s privacy without their permission. I hope you understand that. I did not send the letter the day I wrote it. I waited about a week if I remember correctly. I didn't have stamps.

The way our money works here is rather strange and I am having a cash flow problem lately. All money that is sent to us goes in our savings account. We are only allowed to transfer $500 to our current account each year. The current account is the account we are allowed to spend from. 90% of our pay (for me $69 every two weeks -- the highest pay level) goes into our current account. Complicated and unnecessary, just like most of CSC's way of functioning. Their reasoning for this is to prevent us from paying drug debts. Well, there are other ways of paying drug debts and that's what everyone does.

I did receive your card (cute -- thanks), but not the stickers. You can hide drugs in stickers so we are not allowed to have them sent in. Another of their rules. Thanks anyways!

Yes, telephone calls may be monitored. They are supposed to have a reason, have the order signed by the warden, and to notify you after the fact. But somehow I don't trust that they always do that. When I was in RPC every time I called my mother I would have to redial three times before the call would not go through. I asked the Warden if they were listening to my phone calls. He said no, but after that every time I called my mother the call would go through the first time I dialled. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don't buy it.

I will not correct any of the information you wrote about Linda for the reason I mentioned above. That is not my business. We are friends. She has been a good support to me since we met in Joliette. Yes, she visits me. She also visits others in Joliette. And there are others who were in Joliette who want to visit me when they are finished their paroles. That's it.

I understand about the whole visit thing. I think that was the letter that I received the day before you visited or maybe even after. I think I mentioned in a past letter to you that I do not always receive the express letters when I should. This leads me to believe that from time to time they do read my mail. They are supposed to have a reason, have it signed by a warden, and notify me of that too, but again, I don't trust that they do.

You say that I need to get my self-confidence back. HA! Some things are easier said than done. How do you propose that I do that?

I am treated like a monster by the media and the public at large. I am a political football. I have done terrible things. 

I am pulled in so many different directions I don't know if I am coming or going. I have been almost completely isolated for 8 and a half years with 3 and a half more to go. I will then be kicked to the curb with no one to help me whatsoever. I do what I am told to do by my case management team and then criticized by then for doing it. They are never happy no matter what I do. Yet despite all of this I am supposed to be self-confident and stand up for myself.

The Unit Manager, my IPL (primary worker), and the parole officer all asked about you. They wanted to know who you are, why am I communicating with you, and basically warn me. Of course I can't trust what they say about anything. They are only interested in covering their own asses. They have already proven that to me. They all tell me one thing to my face (i.e. "If it were up to us we would have sent you to Joliette a long time ago" ) but do another thing behind my back.

I am so tired of hearing people tell me verbally that I should be out of jail and then writing the reports that are designed to keep me in because they were told to do so by the higher-ups. It's disgusting . I don't know how anyone could do this job day in and day out.

I really like your "presentation" for the parole board. There is one major problem though. I can't do it. I don't have the courage. I know that they will never release me and as I already told you, I don't think I want to be released. Going to the parole board would be like asking for an emotional and psychological beating. And for what? For absolutely nothing. What about making written representation? I just can't bear the idea of going there to a media-filled room with the Frenches and Mahaffys in attendance and being verbally beaten. I should never have been detained, but I also never should have had to plead my case either. It should have been a done deal that I would leave on my SRD. I really can't do this. I am too afraid.

You may not understand this, but things are getting worse emotionally for me than better. I always thought that time heals all wounds, but that is simply not true for me.

The more time that passes the more I am haunted by everything. I can't even talk about the details of what happened anymore. Before it was almost like telling a story where I could take the emotion out of it, but not anymore. Now it is way too real. 

You are asking me to do the thing I swore I would never do, the one thing I can't possibly do. Why do you think going there will change anything? I know it won’t be easy to get out after 12 years and disappear. But don't forget that even if I go to the parole board every year until I am released they are not going to let me out! I agree that gradual release is better, but I can forget about that in my case. So how will going there change anything except for more punishment for me, along with my family and the Frenches and Mahaffys who will all have to just sit there and relive everything all over again?

You are right -- I know nothing about the publishing business at all. So what do you do other than write to make a living? And when is your deadline, by the way? When will it be published?

I know that I have some staff on my side. Many of them are very sympathetic. The problem is that they have no control over my case. It is Ottawa that decides everything for me. Nobody wants me in this prison, Joliette wants me back, but Ottawa keeps saying no. So in my case taking on the CSC may not be a good thing as, in effect, they are the ones who manage my case and are therefore really my case management team.

What is going on in here? What exactly do you want to know? Nothing much really. This is a very boring place to do time, outside of regular self-injuries, head banging, screaming, emergency interventions, etc.

I am not really in touch with E. Fry. Sylvie Bordelais resigned and E. Fry Quebec has totally abandoned us here. Since being here I have never seen one person from there come here or even attempt to help us. This is not a place for women. We are not wanted here by anyone. It is a fight to get anything. We are constantly insulted for the errors of some. It is not nice to be somewhere you are not wanted.

I am getting no therapy, nor taking any programs, even though I have requested them. No programs have been offered to me. I was offered therapy only for the purpose of dealing with my placement here and nothing else. I requested a program (Survivors of Abuse and Trauma), which I have already taken. I primarily requested the program for another woman who I have been doing extensive peer support with who desperately needs some help. As well, I want to re-take the program so I can have some type of therapy. (When you take this program you can have individual sessions with the woman who runs it. I already know this woman and trust her so I may be able to get somewhere with her.)

I stopped my correspondence course last year, just before I went to RPC. I graduated from Queen’s in 1999 with by BA in psychology. I then applied to Simon Fraser to do a post-baccalaureate diploma in criminology. I did one full year before I ran out of money. I simply can't afford it making $6.90 a day. I managed for a long time, but decided I had to save some money for when I get out.

Doing nothing for the first time in my sentence is driving me crazy. I decided to take some Cegep courses in Spanish while I'm here because the prison will pay for that. But I need my birth certificate to prove my citizenship and the CSC seems to have lost it somewhere along the way. So that is on hold for now.

There are presently 5 other women here with me. They are in prison for a variety of things. Some of them are not max material, some are mental health, some are typical max women. They ended up in prisons for various reasons, the typical abuse and drugs. Most women in prison have similar stories. They ended up in max for various, mostly violence in other prisons. We all interact with no problems. I am a good person to do time with. I mind my own business, I don't rat people out, I am respectful, and I try to help everyone I can.

I took Peer Support training in Joliette and have put that and my education to good use. I am largely a peacemaker here and everywhere I go. We all work but not very much. We all work from between 15 minutes to a few hours a day. I have the job with the most work (which I requested). I prepare the new files for all the newcomers. It's boring, but better than mopping the stairs. The jobs here are menial and not rewarding at all. I have tried since I arrived to find a meaningful job with responsibility, but they won’t give one to any woman because women who were here before ruined it for all of us.

My average day is very boring. They unlocked the doors at 7:30am. There is really no reason to get up early because there is nothing to do. So I usually stay in bed until around 8:30 or so. Contrast this with Joliette where I get up between 6 and 6:30am. I take my shower, put on my makeup, dress, do my hair, etc. I usually draw this process out for as long as possible to fill the time. They open the yard at 9:30. When it's nice, especially in the summer, I usually go outside with one of the other girls. We talk and either walk around the big yard or sit on the bench near the hall windows and watch the guys walk by and talk.

If I stay inside I usually either talk to her in my room or her room, or read or write letters. The yard closes at 11am and That's when lunch comes. I eat approximately 3 meals a week. The rest of the time I survive on canteen or share the special vegetarian diet that one of the girls gets. The deal is she shares and I do the cooking. I piss around until 1pm when the yard opens again. We usually go outside again until 2pm. I watch my soap (Passions) from 2-3pm. Sometimes at 3 we go out again. If not, I usually read, write letters or clean up my cell. It all depends. It all depends on the day. Supper comes at 4pm. If I eat, that takes about half an hour.

I watch Oprah sometimes, or read again, and watch Friends t 5pm. At 5:30 I usually get ready to go work out. The yard opens at 6 and one of the girls and I train, usually for about 2 hours. We do this pretty much every day. It's getting harder though as it is getting pretty cold outside now. When we finish I take another shower, take off my makeup and put on my pyjamas. Then I spend the rest of the evening watching TV, reading or playing on my computer. It all depends what is going on. I always read before going to bed. Reading is like breathing to me. I have to do it or I will die. Psychologically at least! I usually go to bed around 11:45 or 12am. But at least once every week and a half I have a night when I absolutely can't sleep and I end up listening to music until 3 or 4 am.

I don't work every day. My boss usually saves up my work and brings it up to me on Fridays. So usually I end up working Friday evening and Saturday to finish up. So that is life in max.

The summer we suntanned all the time. I think it's very ironic. People want me in max so my life will be hard, but really it isn't. There are absolutely no responsibilities here. Everything is provided. We barely work. We can spend the day sleeping, sun tanning, or doing whatever we want all day every day. 

Contrast that Joliette where if you are 3 minutes late for work you get a report (inside charge). At Joliette if you don't budget your grocery money you starve. That place teaches responsibility and hard work. This place teaches laziness. Since I've been here I have proposed all kinds of jobs that would fill my day, but they don't want to do anything.

Oh well. I am getting paid the same amount of money to work a few hours a week than I did to work 33 hours a week or more in Joliette. The reason I decided to cooperate with the evaluations in RPC was because I was basically threatened. Not outright, but the threat was subtle. I was informed that if I did not cooperate then that could be used against me to increase my security level to maximum. And that was the last thing I wanted. Of course back then they were also promising me that when they were finished I would go back to Joliette... And notice their claim in the letter that they are allowed to provide inmates with "incentives and disincentives". Oh they make me sick!

Their disincentives are threats, plain and simple. I just love how our correctional system, the one that is supposed to "correct" the behaviour of criminals, works. They work on the basis of threats and that's it!

I do not have any old reports in my possession anymore. I have the new ones, that's it. And all the new ones I have are in French because I changed my official language last year. I can try to get copies though. Some of my reports make reference to other people, however, and I will black those parts out because, as I said, it is not for me to compromise the privacy of others.

As for exhibit 22 from the court file, I do not have a copy and have never had one. I don't even know everything that is in there, nor do I want to. I was told of two things that are written in there that just blew my mind. The lawyers and E. Fry told me that they were written there long ago to start to prepare their case for detention.

It was the doctors in RPC that all commented negatively on Van Gijsehem's (whatever) report. If I remember correctly, they all made similar comments that his report was unprofessional, without basis, and that he made diagnostic errors (i.e. anti-social personality disorder) because major features were lacking in me (i.e. no prior conduct disorder.) I can't remember details. I generally try to forget all of this stuff right after I read it as it just frustrates me.

The doctors I saw there were Cindy Presse (psychologist -- positive recommendation for release), Gene Marcoux (psychiatrist -- mainly did a file review -- yes, yet another one), and Robin Menzies ( psychiatrist -- the real hired gun).

Cindy had a really nice attitude. She was very kind and treated me nicely which tends to make me open up even more. She also did a bit of counselling for me after she did all the work for her evaluation. She helped me to deal with my situation (being there and being so isolated). She was also nice enough to introduce me to two of her grad students and they came to see me regularly. I was so lonely that I appreciated that.

I didn't like Menzies at all. I always felt that he was not on the up and up. I knew from the beginning that he was just here to write negatively. The last day of evaluations I felt like I was in the witness chair with Rosen all over again. It was total cross examination and not nice at all. 

Marcoux was kind of in the middle. I got the sense that he was genuinely caring guy. He was nice enough to come and see me after the evaluation was over to see how I was. He wasn't threatening like Menzies.

MAST and DAST are written test to evaluate drug and alcohol consumption. I took them so long ago I don't remember exactly what they were like. I think they were just basic questions about consumption and lifestyle. MMCI stands for Mullion Multiphasic Clinical Inventory (if I remember correctly). Something like that anyway. It is a personality inventory similar to the MMPI-2.

Yes, being in prison is definitely isolating. I don't find it claustrophobic, but very unsettling. I have been so isolated from the world that when I first came to this prison and had interaction with the men I didn't know how to act. When I saw one walking down the hall I immediately looked to the ground. I'm sure they all thought I was the biggest snob in the place, but it was pure shyness and insecurity. That has improved somewhat with time.

I can tell you -- I am scared to death of getting out of jail. Everyone who has been in a long time is. Everyone thinks that they have "ex-con" tattooed on their foreheads. In my case it's even worse because it seems like the whole world knows me and is out to get me. Not physically, but everyone wants to know where I am, what I'm doing, etc. I think I am more afraid of the unknown than anything.

Anyway, that's enough for now. Take care of yourself and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, Karla

P.S. I read an amazing book yesterday by John and Patsy Ramsey (parents of Jon Benet) called Death of Innocence. Have you read it? If not, please do. It is a terribly sad story of, among other things, how the media destroyed what remained of their lives after their daughter's death. I think everyone should read this book for a true portrait of the media.

Nov 27, 2001

Hi. Just received your postcard.

I know I can’t just disappear. I know it takes lots of hard work and planning. I am trying to plan, but it’s almost impossible to do from here. Can you help? The book about Evelyn Dick sounds interesting.

Oh -- and a belated thank you for the article you sent a few months ago. If you want to make sure I read the book first, send it directly to the library in care of the librarian, Madeleine Monpetit. Enclose a note saying the book is a donation to the library, but that I am to read it first. I will also let her know on my end and she will give it to me when it comes. Thanks.

I look forward to your next letter. Oh - and interesting piece of news. The woman (if you can call her that) who sold those photos to the rags is back in Joliette. Interesting how she, the person who caused all of the trouble, is allowed back there while I, whose only error was to celebrate someone’s birthday, am stuck here in max for over a year.


Dec 11, 2001

Dear Stephen,

I do like Leanne, but nobody ever uses it. Nobody ever calls me Karla Leanne and using it on the envelope may be a tip-off to those who are snooping in my mail. Now who is paranoid!

I know that I am lucky. I know that I was literally half an inch away from a life sentence. I know that I could have been dead. But sometimes I wonder if either one of those options would have been better. If I had received a life sentence would there have been so much public and political reaction? 

I am doing more time on a 12 year sentence than many woman who are doing life sentences (with parole eligibility at 10 years you are eligible to apply for day parole at 7 years.) And if I were dead, I wouldn’t have to live through all of this.

Well, enough of that. That's too bad you didn't like The Corner of his Eye. I really like Dean Koontz. And I don't particularly like Stephen King. I like some of his stuff -- Christine, Cujo, Thinner, and Gerald's Game. I read Delores Claiborne a long time ago, but don't remember if I liked it or not.. I did receive the copies of the reviews of The Painted House, as well as the Knowles obituary. Thanks.

Did you read The Painted House? If so, what did you think of it? It may be strange, but I tend to stay away from books and movies that the critics like. If a big deal is made of a book or movie, chances are I will never read or see it. I have never seen Dances with Wolves for that reason. I guess the reason is that when I hear all the hullabaloo, the book or movie never seems to live up to its reputation. Titanic was one exception. I loved that movie.

How do I choose what I read? That's a good question. When I find an author I like, I read everything he or she writes. When I was in Kingston I was really lucky as we had an excellent librarian who was very passionate about books. When I read everything I was interested in the library, she went to the public library and chose books she thought I would like. She knew exactly what I liked and also introduced me to new authors and books. I started reading Michael Connelly and Ed McBain there (I love police procedurals).

When friends and family send me books it is usually a combination of ones I've asked for and ones they think I will like. I subscribe to Glamour magazine and they have a book review page. I have gotten quite a few books that they have reviewed and have loved every one of them. My latest favourite book is Dating Big Bird by Laura Zigman. I also recently read Fay by Larry Brown. Excellent book. So now of course I want to read everything else those two have written. I liked it years ago when in the backs of books they used to advertise other books that you might like if you enjoyed the book you had just read. Why did they stop doing that?

I also love reading biographies -- pretty strange for someone who values privacy so much. I am reading one of Sidney Poitier right now and just finished Melissa Etheridge on the weekend. When I go to the library and choose a book, I just read the back and if it looks interesting I get it.

I read The Great Gatsby years ago. An interesting anecdote: the reason I originally read it is because Paul told me to. He said that Joanne (ex-girlfriend) once told him that he was just like Jay Gatsby. What do you think?

I haven't been notified about the books you sent. I do know that the librarian received a bunch of new books last week, but she didn't get them ready to put out on the shelves yet. They will be ready for this week. I will be sure to look for those books and if they aren't there to ask her about them. She is pretty good. She knows how much I love to read so she usually holds all the new books back until Thursday when we go so I will have first choice. She is also starting to recommend books to me that she thinks I will like.

Camille Trudel is not my Unit Manager. Pierre Tremblay is. Camille is in charge of work and programs here. My IPL is Martine Desjardins. My parole officer is Jo-An Dufour. In Joliette my PO was Ginette Turcotte, IPL Therese Boudreau and Team Leader Daniel Cournoyer. Please don't use their names. They are only doing their jobs and I don't want their privacy to be compromised either.

The reason I need a parole officer if I'm not going to be paroled is strictly for bureaucratic reasons. Everyone has a PO and IPL and a team leader or unit manager, depending whether you are in a men’s or women’s prison. They each have different responsibilities. Your IPL has the most contact with you. She writes certain reports and the parole officer writes others. It is as simple as that. Before 1997 POs were called Case Management Officers.

Back to books. My family and a couple friends send me books. But all of the books I mentioned last summer were books that had been donated to the library by people I don't know. We seem to have a lot of English books donated which is lucky. I can read in French, but prefer English. I like to lose myself in the book and I can't seem to do that in French. I am reading one French book a week (just starting to), to try to overcome that.

Do you read French? If not, how will you translate what I send you? I have asked for the three RPC reports and should have them shortly. They are the last reports I have in English before I did change my language. Were you aware I did that?

I have a question? If you do not care one way or the other about my relationship with Linda then why do you keep asking about it? I do not think that has anything to do with a book about the hypocrisy of the CSC and the government. And no, the relationship you described is not correct. We are friends. She was in love with me (and I don't know why -- I'm probably the worst person to be in a relationship with), but that's as far as it goes. Perhaps there was something there at one time, but, if so, it is long over.

Why all the interest? I seriously hope that you will respect my feelings on this subject. I do not want anything I have said about her [Linda Veronneau] -- or anything other person for that matter -- to become public. Nobody else needs to suffer for what I have done and unfortunately everyone who is connected with me suffers for me. So anything I say about her or anyone else is off the record, ok?

The reason for my medical absences was to have surgery on my wrists. While I was in P4W, I developed a ganglion on the nerve in my wrist. They wouldn’t do anything about it, even though it was quite painful. When I transferred to Joliette I saw the doctor and asked her if they would do anything about it. She referred me to surgeon, who I had to go to the hospital to see. I saw him and he agreed to do the surgery (anyone who says that inmates have preferential treatment is crazy -- believe me, I have heard people say this!).

During the two year wait, I developed ganglion on my other wrist as well. That one was even more painful. I was on morphine for a short while because of the pain. So when I had my surgery, I requested that the doctor do both wrists at once and he agreed. I was off work for 6 weeks and the only thing that helped the pain was the heat of the sun. Luckily it was very hot outside so I spent my days in the sun and ended up with a very stupid tan as my wrists were bandaged from my knuckles to the middle of my forearm!

I went back to work one afternoon a week to do bills on the computer as well to write up the orders to help out my friend who I worked with (it was also good physical therapy). One of those ganglions has started to grow back and now I have to take Celebrex for the pain. There are things I will probably never be able to do again. (like push-ups for example). I think I had 4 visits to the hospital regarding my surgery. I also went for an x-ray for something else but I don't remember what. And I also went once because I had an asthma attack that they couldn’t do anything for in the internal clinic. That's all, I think.

About the letter from Murray Segal in my file. I really don't think that it is there. There is supposed to be a letter from the Crown detailing my cooperation, etc. Once I arrived in Joliette, I wrote to Mr. Segal asking for the letter to be written. He wrote me back about a month later telling me that he would review the file as a first step. I never heard back from him after that. I do not believe that the Crown held up their end of the bargain. I think you are right when you say that nobody thought I would do my whole sentence.

I remember George Walker explaining what a 12 year sentence was -- 4 years if I continue to behave as I was, and 8 years if I'm the worst inmate in the world. Well, so much for that! 

I do not believe that there was an understanding that I would get early parole. I believe it was that the crown and police would not oppose it. It should have been clearer, but I guess nobody realized what would happen.

Ok, lets start working on the written stuff for the board. Like I said, I don't think that it will make a difference, but it would probably be a good thing to have all of this on record somewhere. By the way, if I understand it correctly, the way the annual reviews work, they have to make their decision at least two months earlier than the anniversary of their last decision. Does that make sense? They made their last decision in February (I think), therefore they have to make their next one in December. I think that's the way it works. To be honest, I never really paid much attention to the process as I already knew the outcome. I do know that my PO has already completed her report to the board to justify my continued detention.

I don't think that there is anything that I can do to gain my release or return to Joliette. I really think things are too political for me to be released. I think that seeing the parole board members would not change anything. I honestly believe that they have their orders and that is that. Am I paranoid? Maybe, but experience has taught me well. The wardens of the prisons don't even have a say in my placement, that's how serious it is. Me being here causes this prison headaches. I take up a valuable place here. There are three lifers and one maximum security woman waiting to come here and there is no room.

Do you know about the new law? Every new lifer has to do his or her first two years in max. That will mean that pretty soon there will be four beds (me and the three lifers) in this prison taken up by people that cannot leave to go to Joliette before the max opens because they have their orders not to. So much for wardens controlling their own prisons.

I am sorry -- I gave you misinformation. There was a report that criticized my friendships at Joliette. It was Van Gijseghem's report and he said that I hang around with the "strongest" inmates in the prison. Those weren’t his exact words, but it was something like that. I guess I would have been criticized no matter who I hung around with there. Sure, they are the strongest personality wise, but they are also the most pro-social as well.

Thanks for the birth certificate info. I see that I am kind of screwed as I don't have anyone to be a guarantor. I haven’t known anyone in Quebec in any of those positions for two years that I still see. I'll see what I can do.

I am trying to stay sane here, but it is very difficult. I know that I am very out of touch with reality. I know that things are bigger in my head than they are in real life. But I don't know how to make things any more real than I can. I'm glad you think that I am pretty grounded. Thanks for the encouragement.

My courses... When I was at Queen's, it was very expensive. When I started my degree it cost $490 plus books per full-credit course. I had to pay some, but I did get some financial assistance. Please don't disclose that as I would hate to be responsible for other inmates getting cut off. I think school is the most important thing someone can do while they are in prison. Education did more for my self-esteem and growth than all of the prison programs I did put together.

Anyway, at the end of my degree, each course from Queen’s cost $800 or $900 (something like that) plus books. Thankfully my financial assistance lasted until I was finished my degree. When I started at Simon Fraser (criminology), I paid for all the courses myself out of my earnings. I had a little help as well form family and friends. There, each course costs something like $300 plus books. A heck of a lot more reasonable.

It's really a shame that I can't finish. Oh well -- maybe when I get out of prison.

I find it very interesting in Quebec, who is generally more "forgiving" and helpful to inmates specifically excludes inmates from their financial assistance programs while Ontario does not. What do you think of that? You are right -- you are allowed the $500 on top of your earnings. And yes, you can only transfer $500 a year regardless of how much you have in your savings account. There are a few exceptions. For example, you can do extra transfers to pay for medical items if the warden approves it. You can pay for school, lawyers, and family expenses directly out of your savings account. When I have my private family visits -- even my alone time in there -- I pay directly from my savings. Thank God for that.

We used to be allowed to have stickers, envelopes, etc. sent to us, but that recently changed. I think we can receive envelopes that are already stamped by the post office, but I'm not sure anymore. They change their rules like most people change their underwear. And they never advise us either. Advertising, hmm... Sounds interesting.

So tell me about the disagreement between you and your publisher about how to do the book. I'm curious to hear about it. And I would love to see some of the manuscript before. Thanks for that.

Yes, I type. I have typed forever. I took two typing classes in high school and computers in Joliette. I can type rather quickly -- 50-60 wpm. I used to be better, but don't really have to type quickly as all I really do are letters and I have to think as I write so... By playing, I mean games (solitaire, hearts, jeopardy, etc.). I also play around with some of the programs I have. I just bought a new one -- Print Shop -- that can make cards, calendars, etc. I have lots of fun playing around on that...

I have your basic Windows programs, along with Print Shop. I have a bunch of games. When I can't sleep I listen to tapes on my Walkman. One of the girls here doesn’t have a radio so I usually lend her my radio-tape-CD player. I listen to CDs on my computer and have my Walkman so I'm ok. I usually listen to tapes when I can't sleep.

Yes, we are allowed to have tapes and CDs. We have to buy them of course. We have no tapes or CDs in the library and I don't know if we were allowed to have them. I like lots of different music from classical to modern. I don't like country (except for Dixie Chicks) or any of that 60s and 70s rock (CCR, Janis Joplin etc.) and I love 50s music.

Well, I just had a rather bizarre talk with my PO. We were talking about various things and she mentioned that perhaps I should think about trying to do my last year in the community. She's the one who brought it up, not me. I told her there is no use that everything is all predetermined, but she disagreed.

I am supposed to start the famous sex-offender program for women soon, and she seems to think that once that is done, they may have little reason to keep me in jail. 

I'm sure she is just saying all of this to give me some hope. After all, she won’t be the one to bring this idea to the board as by then I will be long gone from this prison. What do you think?

As for Cindy Presse, she is also a good friend of Sharon Williams. Interesting, eh? They are very much alike in style. Cindy is also very interested in psychopathy. She gave me her thesis to read. She brought me lots of books to read. One I really liked was The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. I don't remember the author.

Ok, now I will talk to you about RPC. I'll actually start from the beginning, when I was told about the whole idea. The day that the photos were published, I was in my room downstairs getting ready to go to work. One of the girls had the news on (Canada AM) and yelled to me to turn it on. I did and saw their report. I was very upset, especially when I saw the photos with me and Christina Sherry. Chris was already out on parole and I knew that this could destroy whatever life she had built for herself. Later I did find out that she had lost her job.

I went to work and really wasn't feeling too well. I always have a not very happy reaction when there is something in the paper, but I was feeling worse than normal. My PO called me to the front to show me the paper (normal procedure) and to ask me to read it so I could tell her who I thought had sold them. I read the article and gave her the name. I was (and still am) 100% sure.

I went through the day feeling really awful. This lasted for a couple of days. We were supposed to do inventory at work and I just felt too awful to do it (not normal for me -- I can usually just put everything aside, but I had a really strong reaction to this). So I talked to my friend who I work with and we decided to just skip it for the month. We talked to our boss and she was okay with it. A few days after this happened (I'm not exact on the time frame), I was called to the front again by my PO.

When I got there she asked me if I was still refusing another psychiatric evaluation. I has begun to refuse them after Van Gagh whatever's report on the advice of my lawyer because I wasn’t going to contest the detention. So I told her yes and left.

About half an hour later I was called again, just 2 minutes before the count. I called on the microvox and told them it was the count -- they said to come anyway so I went. This is going to sound absolutely crazy and not true, but I swear it is. On the way there, it actually went through my head "they are calling me to tell me that they are going to transfer me because I am causing them too much trouble." It was my PO again. She informed me that they were going to send me to RPC for a psychiatric evaluation.

I was shocked, even though the thought of a transfer had gone through my mind. When I thought of it, it wasn't a serious thought. I told her that they couldn’t do that. She was very apologetic. I could tell that she felt really badly and didn't want to be the one to tell me. She told me that yes, they could and that they didn't have a choice. I was so upset. I cried, I yelled.

I asked her why Saskatchewan, why not Kingston. If it was Kingston at least I could see my family. She said she would ask them if I could go to RPC Kingston instead. She was very nice to me and I know she felt terrible. It was written all over her face and all in her voice. She asked me if I would go voluntarily or not. I told her there was no way I would go willingly and then immediately asked her the difference. I was afraid that not going willingly would mean something worse. She told me that all it meant was really the paperwork involved.

That was pretty much all that we said in that first meeting. I had to wait until the count was cleared and then went back to the house. I walked back, crying my eyes out. I walked up the walk to the house and people from the house next door were sitting on their picnic table. They all asked me what was wrong, but I just shook my head and went inside. Linda, Manon, and Tracy (I'm taking your advice and only using first names, please do not use them) were all there in the kitchen.

I walked in, crying like a baby, and they all asked me what was wrong. I told them, "they are transferring me to Saskatchewan."

They all stood there with their mouths open while I ran upstairs (Marc Labelle). Marc wasn't there so I talked to an associate of his, Martin Latour. I explained the situation to him and he laughed and told me not to worry, that I wasn't going anywhere. I was not convinced -- I tried to tell him about the political nature of my case, but he still said not to worry that an involuntary transfer like that is against policy and the law.

Afterwards, I went back downstairs and the questions started. I told the three girls what Ginette (PO) had said and started crying again. They all told me not to worry. Stivia was in the PFV and I started worrying about her. For months every time she and I went to the PFV, something bad happened while the other was gone. All I could think of was that this topped everything that had happened so far. Manon wanted to go tell Stivia, but I told her not to, to let her enjoy her rest.

Well, the rest of the day, I went back to work. I didn't say anything to anyone because I wasn’t sure what to do. I had gotten so used to keeping everything about my case secret that I just continued on. I was called back to see my PO a few more times that day. She had to give me notification of an involuntary transfer, etc.

Kingston wasn’t possible, she said, because they don't take women. Pinel wasn’t possible, she said, because they couldn’t control the time frames of when the evaluation would be done. She also told me that the real reason this was happening was because of the pictures, plain and simple. She or my IPL (can't remember which one) told me that:

The warden had received a phone call in the middle of the night from Ottawa telling him to get me out of that prison, that they didn't want it to become an election issue. 

They were just following orders.

That afternoon, Manon did go tell Stivia about what was going on. She left the PFV a couple hours later. And then we began the vigil. I don't know what else to call it. It was like someone had died in that house. Everyone stopped eating. Everything came to a standstill. I stopped working. Stivia stopped working. We all just sat together, being together. I tried to work, but it just didn't work. Every time I went there, I ended up getting called somewhere else. I gradually told people what was going on. Everyone was in shock. Nobody was happy.

People were crying and coming up to me telling me to fight, coming up and hugging me. I cried all the time. I called the correctional investigator and they told me not to worry, that I would never transfer because it was illegal and contrary to policy. Everyone was trying to reassure me, but somehow I knew not to believe them.

I have learned over the years that nothing is the same for me. 

That time in between my notice of transfer and the court date was hell. I don't remember much of it clearly. Time seemed to run together. I started having panic attacks and started taking Ativan and sleeping medication. If not, I would sit up all night, rocking back and forth. Now I regret not staying up all night every night, enjoying the company of my friends. This may sound like an extreme reaction, but you have to look at my past.

I was in a wonderfully loving family, then condemned to hell on earth with Paul. Then I was sent to prison in which I was locked away in a small unit with very few other people for four years. For that time, I was verbally abused, threatened and escorted everywhere. 

The only time I spent alone was in the PFV. Then I went to Joliette where I was almost free. I really hated it at first but grew to love it. You visited my house in Joliette so you have a glimpse of what it is like. We really try to make it a home and we live as a family for the most part.

There are five of us who had been together for years. We are very close. We cook together, eat together, have fun together, etc. It really was like a family. I was accepted in that prison. For the first time in my whole sentence, I had real friends, a real life. I was able to work on my problems and issues just like everyone else. I had a job I liked. I worked hard for what I had and I deserved it. And here, it was all about to be taken away from me for no good reason except that I was bringing heat on the prison through no fault of my own.

If I sold those photos, if I caused the trouble, I would understand. But I didn't. And everyone around me telling me that they were against what was happening made me feel even more helpless because: a) I couldn’t appeal to them to change their minds because they weren’t the ones making the decisions, and b) I couldn’t get mad at them for the same reason. Talk about frustration.

The day of court I was in the E. Fry office with my worker (not case worker -- someone else who works with me) waiting for the call from my lawyer. He called and told her -- I was too upset to even take the phone. Stivia, Manon, and Linda were all with me. When she told us the news everyone started crying and then my PO walked in. My worker told her the news and she had no idea. She went back to the office, made some calls, and came back. She said "I'm sorry, but we are leaving in an hour."

I freaked out. It was 4:00. The three of us ran to personal effects to get a thing to put my clothes in. Andre, the guy in charge, couldn't believe that I was leaving. He told us to go back home, that he would bring the chariot. So we left and went from house to house where I said goodbye to everyone. People were crying and so was I. We made it back to the house where we told the rest of the girls in the house.

Andre arrived at the house at that time with the big chariot to put my stuff in. The girls and I went in my room and started just throwing things in the chariot. I had already put some clothes on my bed, thinking that I would probably lose in court. We all just threw a bunch of stuff in there. I quickly called my mom to tell her and then we all left the house (the whole house) to walk to personal effects. It was freezing outside. Manon had given me her winter coat to take with me and I snuggled up inside of it.

We walked to the door near the canteen and the keeper wouldn’t let anyone go the rest of the way with me, except my worker. We all hugged goodbye and cried some more. My worker and I walked with the keeper to personal effects. I was searched and met with the RCMP guy who coincidentally brought me to Joliette in the first place. He and my PO told me that they weren't going to handcuff or shackle me because they knew that I wouldn't do anything. I said ok. Then I walked out into the truck.

When we were turning around to pull out of the parking lot I looked out the window and what must have been the whole population was standing at the fence watching. I started crying again and put my hand up to the window as if to hold all of their hands. Of course they couldn’t see because the light in the truck was off.

Oh yeah -- on the way out we stopped at the clinic where they gave me a bunch of Ativan because they were afraid that I would have another panic attack. We drove to Montreal and got on a the plane. From there on, my memory gets really hazy. I was so stressed out, I blocked a lot of it out.

For months (until I got here as a matter of fact) I had no idea that there was an officer from here on the transfer. She was there from Joliette on. She was the one who searched me, but I have no memory of that. I remember the RCMP guy handing me a Coke, a bottle of water, and a Kit Kat and putting them in my pocket, but not landing in Thunder Bay or going inside the restaurant. I remember landing in Saskatoon and getting in the car (and being handcuffed). I remember arriving at the prison, insisting on calling my lawyer, but calling my mom instead at something like 3am. I was a wreck.

The next day I woke up just horrified. It was so dry there. Already my skin was parched. I had nothing. They gave me a sweat suit to wear but no underwear or bra or anything (personal effects was closed). I begged one of the nurses to get me a bra and underwear and she went and got the ones I had worn there. I had to wash them every day because I didn't get my stuff until the next Wednesday!

I was so dehydrated. It is so dry there it’s incredible! And I have dry skin to begin with. The nurses were super nice with me. They brought me the unit TV to watch during the day. I had nothing. The first letters I wrote from there were total desperation. They put me in segregation because of the threats to my life and I was locked up in this little room with a cell, a shower, and a tiny kitchenette which was really a counter top, bar fridge, and cupboards. It was terrible.

I was totally alone with nobody to talk to. The nurses tried to come back to see me, but I was super suspicious and they were really too busy to come back anyway. They had 12 other women to deal with. The psychiatrist came to see me. I don't know his name and never did. He was the duty psychiatrist.

I refused to answer anything but the most basic questions and refused to sign the acceptance of treatment paper or the agreement to abide by the unit rules.

I laughed later when I looked at the acceptance treatment papers. It said that if you refuse to follow treatment you will be thrown out of RPC.  Ha! That never happened to me unfortunately.

Jan 7, 2001

Hello once again. As you can see, I started to write and then got all screwed up because I ran out of printer ink and the holidays came. Things are kind of back to normal now, but I am really miserable and unhappy.

I'm really not doing well at all. I received your letter. Thanks for the info about Kathy and Alex. Interesting.
Yes, I do want to hear any information you get about anyone. It's not nice to say, but it’s a little reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who @#%$ up in my life.

You know, I'm not getting stronger, I'm getting weaker. I am really starting not to care about what happens to me, about whether or not I go back to Joliette, about when I get out of prison. I am very discouraged.

I see things here that make me lose all faith in human beings. Things I'd rather not talk about.

Why do you care so much when I don't? Or are you in this just to make money and make a name for yourself? don't answer that -- that was nasty. I already did a request for all of my files about year and a half ago. About six months ago they came and asked me if I still wanted it. I said no because I didn't want to have it in my cell because of problems with theft. So if I ask for that again it will take another year and a half I'm sure. They are supposed to do it in thirty days but they can justify any time delay they want those people.

Yes, I have a copy of Galligan's report. Of course I no longer have it with me, but I have read it. Yes I know who Michael Code is. You’re right, I never met him or saw him, but I heard his name many times. That's great that he believes that I'm not dangerous and all, but unfortunately he has no say in the matter of parole.

Visits are not really a good idea because we can't be alone and there is absolutely no privacy there. The other girls that have visits listen in on everything and talk lots. Calling you is the same thing -- no privacy from them whatsoever.

There are girls here who would do anything to curry favour with the staff.

I know the name of the girl who sold the photos first of all because there is only one person who fits the profile given in the accompanying article, and also because it was confirmed to me. This is top-secret because the person who confirmed it was not supposed to tell me. So never ever repeat that or I will never again receive information like that. I don't know if she was put up to or not, but I doubt it. Other people who knew her long before this have told me that she is the type of person who would sell out her own mother for some crack. She is a nasty person. When she was in Joliette she tried to control everything and everyone. Before she went to her parole hearing she told everyone in the house that she better get parole because if she didn't she would make life hell. Nice person. We all cheered when she left.

Madeleine is an employee.

Us women are not allowed to work off of our unit. The men might attack us you know. 

I did receive those books and enjoyed them. Thanks a lot. Thanks for the card too. And Happy Holidays a little late. Like I said, I have really not been here in my head too much these days. Anyway, I'm going to end this letter and get it sent out. I promise that I will continue again. I know your deadline looms large.

Take care, Karla

Jan 17, 2001

Dear Stephen,

Hi there. I just received your rather funny "Passions" letter. It sure took its sweet time getting here -- it was dated the 4th of January. You may be interested to know that Timmy received his Christmas wish and is now a real boy. Tabitha (the witch) is successfully passing him off as her nephew. Tabitha had originally created Timmy to keep her company. She is very upset that he is now a real boy because she lost her powers and can't make another doll. She is convinced that Timmy will grow up and leave her one day.

Norma (the axe-murderer) wants to kill Tabitha and Timmy because they unknowingly insulted Norma's father (who is dead -- she carried his skull around with her in a pouch). As for Catholicism, it seems like everyone in Harmony is Catholic -- I don't know why. I can keep all of these people straight because I watch the show pretty much every day. I like this show because it is different than the other soaps. Unfortunately this week they have started to revert to a very typical storyline -- about 5 different people are out to kill Julian Crane. He got shot yesterday and now it will be a typical "whodunit" an then the requisite trial. Oh well.

As for Jessica, she is Kayla's sister and a very minor player in all of this. So much for what you read in the newspaper -- she is not at all my favourite character. My favourite is Theresa. The whole storyline about her and Ethan is my favourite. So don't believe what you read!

I guess by now you received my last letter. I was pretty despondent at the end. My spirits have picked up somewhat and I am really thinking hard about what I will do with my life. 

For the first time, I am actually considering going to the parole board next year. I'm not sure yet, but just the fact that I am considering it is major.

I have a question for you, something that popped into my head a few days ago. If Michael Code is really disturbed how the CSC has handled my case, would he be interested in being my lawyer for an eventual parole hearing? An interesting proposition, I think.

So your publisher thinks you have gone soft on me. I hope that will not affect your position.

The other way of paying off debt in prisons is simply buying canteen for the other person. It works out to be the same thing as money, but of course money is more valuable. Some people do exchanges for services -- |you do for me and I will do for you." I'm not talking about sex either. That kind of thing simply doesn't exist. The old stereotype of young, new inmates hooking up with an older, more experienced inmate for protection is a Hollywood creation. I've never seen it happen once.

The problem with prisons is that once one person does something wrong or against the rules it is ruined for everyone. Not sure if this is totally true (stories rarely are in prison), but apparently women were allowed to work in the kitchen here before. Someone told me that the girls who worked there did something -- what exactly I don't know. But now we are not allowed to work off the unit.

Ok, you are interested to hear about what my life was like in P4W after I testified. First of all, I remember the day I came back from testifying very clearly. it was very, very hot outside. My case management officer was waiting for me at the back stairs leading up to segregation. Her face was totally red because of the heat. I was so happy to be back. I felt like crying.

I went into my unit and it was very quiet because there was just one other girl there. We got along really well. That was back in the day where we used to be locked up all day and only get unlocked for a few hours in the evening. But the officers that were working on the unit at that time were super nice an unlocked us a lot during the day that summer after I came back. So Kim and I talked a lot and drank cappuccino, did crafts, etc. I also called my mom every night to hear what had happened in court that day (she was going pretty much every day).

When the jury began to deliberate I was in the private family visiting unit by myself. So I was alone when I heard his famous suicide tape and a bunch of other things they were playing on the news.

I came back to the prison a few hours before the jury came back. I was in my cell when they announced the verdict and it was crazy -- I heard people yelling from the other units, everyone was cheering. It was unbelievable.

I was crying because I really thought that I would magically feel better once he was convicted, but I felt no relief at all. Strange. 

Anyway, life continued along pretty much as it had been before. I was freaked out about the upcoming trial (rapes) and was both relieved and upset when it never happened.

Things started to change when all of the other girls in my unit transferred to Kitchener in 1997. I was alone in my unit and it was a welcomed change. P4W was so loud and noisy and it was great to finally have some peace and quiet. I was waiting to transfer to Joliette and was the last medium security offender to leave the prison. Because of that, I did tons of different jobs. I worked outside in the library, in the unit, and there was even talk of going to work at the canteen (I didn't though). It was a nice time where I began to mentally prepare for my upcoming transfer.

My transfer was a pretty well-kept secret. I was told on the Friday to get my family there for the next day for a PFV and that I would be transferred on Tuesday right from the PFV (I think it was Tuesday).

My mom and sister came, we had a great time. The night before my transfer I didn't think I would be able to sleep. I was so excited. 

But I finally managed to. The next morning I got ready to go and they came really early in the morning to get me. I was really excited. The plane ride was uneventful. It wasn't until I first saw the houses as we drove up the street (Marsolais) that I became nervous. I remember saying to myself:  "what have I done".

We went in and they put me in 1700, the unit for new arrivals (it was mental health unit when you toured there). I immediately met two French girls who didn't speak any English. My French was really rusty back then but I managed.

It was kind of a shock being there because after four years of being escorted everywhere I was suddenly totally on my own. I met lots of people and was very lucky because one inmate who was very well respected decided to take me under her wing. She introduced me to everyone and I was pretty much immediately accepted by everyone. I had to find a house to move into and I was accepted into four houses. I decided on house 1 (we used to be there before it was turned into the mother-child unit). It was an excellent choice.

I started working on the second or third day I was there at food services where I stayed until my transfer to RPC. I should also say that for the first little while I hated Joliette. I found it really hard to be free, yet not free at the same time. It was a real adjustment. That's why it is so important that we be able to live in prisons like this. Imagine if I had been released from P4W after 12 years.

Jan 23, 2001

Hello again. I received your other letters yesterday and the day before. Thanks for the card, the stamps, everything.

I found Tracy's interview to be typical of her. I love the girl, but she definitely has her problems. I also found the articles you sent to be very interesting. I know all about Sask Pen -- what a horribly nasty place. Of course, what they don't tell you is how badly the staff treat those women. There are always two sides to a story but the media never seems to understand that.

I understand what you are saying about Linda. I know that It will probably come up at a parole hearing, but I'm not sure that I want more attention paid to it. Let me think about it. If you have any more arguments I'm prepared to listen.

I am taking your advice not doing the sex offender program. I haven’t told them that yet. Should I tell them outright or wait until they bring it up? If I tell them, what reason should I give them?

They do not know the cause of the ganglions on my wrists are. And one of them is growing back and it hurts almost constantly. The doctor here (a real idiot) will not send me back for more surgery. I will have to either wait to go back to Joliette or until I get out.

I do not remember the letter I wrote to Dr. Arndt. I was really surprised to hear that he shared that with you. Not too pleased either.

I want to tell you that finally I trust you. I am prepared to fight and not back down. I will go to the parole board next year. This year I am really not ready. It's not a cop-out either. I have already signed my waivers to appear and the decision will be made very soon. There are too many things going on right now -- it would not be good to be adding anymore.

I also really want Michael Code as a lawyer and if he agrees that will pose more problems as I'm sure he doesn’t speak French. Please talk to him about this.

Pinel... I never thought places like that still existed in 2000. What a horrible place. If you speak your mind, are too demanding, or have a bad reputation prior to arrival, they get big men to promenade people through the halls in their underwear (men and women live together in the same units). It is disgusting.

It is long and boring. You get up in the morning. Breakfast is at 8am. After that the men have their showers. You sit and do absolutely nothing all day. You get locked up for an hour after lunch for "nap-time". When you are unlocked again you do absolutely nothing. Everyone in the place smokes and there is only one small room where smoking is not allowed. Naturally I spent all of my time there. And the staff gave me hell for it! They harassed me every day for not associating with the other patients because I stayed in my room or the little TV room so I could breathe clean air. I have never seen a hospital quite like it.

After supper you get looked up again for another nap. After and finally at 7:30 an activity. The choices are: pool, swimming (once a week), skating, tobogganing, and some other things in the summer (I'm not sure what). That all lasts until 9pm. Lock up is at 10:30. Sometimes they show movies. BORING!

We are only allowed to take two books per week from the library which I found totally ridiculous and terrible (why is it that books are restricted everywhere?) My caseworker (Alain somebody) agreed and did what he could to get me more books. He managed to borrow books form other units for me so I always had something to read. My mom also sent me books, thank God. I also had ton of mail from all of my Joliette friends. I spent all my time reading and writing letters.

There were a few people there that I liked and got along well with. One was girl named Audrey. She was there for some kind of evaluation and was supposed to go back to some kind of group home or something (I think she was). Another was a guy named Guy who was really nice, but very skinny. He couldn't stand being locked up and would freak out whenever they put him in his room. Another was a guy named Yannick who was kind of creepy. He was very cute, but very strange. He used to cry about being locked up in Pinel for a couple of months.

Finally one day I couldn’t take it anymore and I told him that I have been locked up for 8 years so stop whining about a couple of months.

He liked me and kept saying he would wait for me to get of jail. He didn't even know anything about me!

Then there was this guy named Raymond who I really liked. He had been in jail for years in Archambault. I used to tell him about P4W and he would tell me about Archambault. He was schizophrenic I think.

This place is really not good for anyone who has been abused. As I mentioned before, they don't put up with anything. I had heard lots of stories from people who had been there from Joliette, but I was always kind of skeptical because they were all mental health cases. But everything they said is true. A friend of mine from Joliette came in when I was there. She has been severely abused in her life and was really agitated when she arrived. Joliette told Pinel that they were scared of her so the first thing Pinel did when she arrived was to get the "miradors" to grab her and drag her to isolation.

This woman has been abused all her life so how do you think she reacted to big men grabbing her? She tried to fight them off, was tied to the bed (how do you think a rape victim would react to being tied to a bed by several men?) and then drugged up and left there for days. Nice treatment.

There was also an old lady there who needed to be bathed by nurses. One day they were trying to get her to take a bath but she didn't want to. I was in the shower room and they got a man in there to try to forcibly undress her. She was crying and I looked right at them and gave them the "evil eye". The man got out of there pretty quickly. The women managed to undress her and forced her into the bath. She started crying and saying it was too hot. I immediately went to the phone and called an E. Fry lawyer and asked her to do something about this. Of course nothing was done.

I was seen by Dr. Brault, Da Silva (once), and I don't remember the name of the other one. I was hardly seen at all.

I told them I was never going to tell my story again because it has been told enough and I don't see the need to repeat everything over and over again when it is all in my file. 

I kept asking them when my program would start and they just asked me what I wanted to do. I told them that I was supposed to be doing a sex offender program, but they never offered me anything. All they wanted to know was what I wanted to do in therapy, with who, and where. Crazy.

My caseworker eventually told me I was there for evaluation. When I found that out I asked to come back here. I returned soon after. I would never ever recommend to anyone to go to Pinel. It is a crazy place that does not respect the rights of people. If you are quiet, do you what you are told, don't laugh too much or too loudly, you will be ok. But God forbid you show fear or stand up for yourself -- you will be tied up and drugged. So that is the story of Pinel.

If you want to know anything else, let me know. I really like your parole board outline. I may have given you the wrong impression about something though. I went without underwear, TV, books, etc. for 5 days in RPC, not the whole time. I did not know that Mr. Macdonald was censured for his remarks. Cool.

Thanks for the stamped envelopes. I received them, wonder of wonders. Sometimes things like that pass, sometimes they don't.

Ok, I will end this letter now so I can get it into the mail. I tried to call you a few days ago when there was miraculously nobody else in the unit but you weren’t there. Oh well -- it's ok.

Take care of yourself and I look forward to your next letter.


P.S. Enclosed is the copy of assessment for decision for my detention hearing along with my latest correctional plan.

Feb 11, 2001

Dear Stephen,

Hi there. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, but for some reason I have really not felt like doing very much these days. I guess I am getting used to the routine of doing absolutely nothing after a year and four months of living like this.

Yes, I have been receiving the books that you have been sending to the library and enjoying them very much. Thanks. I haven not read Elmore Leonard, but I received a letter from a friend who was reading one of his books (La Brava in French, I believe).

Before I answer your letters, I want to tell you that I was approached again about the sex offender program. My PO doesn't really talk to me, so it was my IPL who informed me that the program will be ready for me soon. I explained to her that I do not want to do the program.

She acted like I had a screw loose and told me that not taking the program can only hurt me, that if I intend to go to the board I absolutely must do this program. I told her again no. 

She asked me to at least look at it before committing to not taking it. I didn't argue further with her because we were having a rather heated discussion about other things, things that have been going on recently, and it really wasn't the time. I am felling rather emotionally fragile these days and just didn't have the fight in me last night.

No, I was not on an open ward in Pinel. It was a locked ward. Most of the hospital is locked, I believe.

As for university degrees offered by correspondence. At Queen’s it was very limited. If my memory serves me correctly you can get a degree in psychology, German, English, and maybe one or two other disciplines by correspondence. I originally wanted nothing to do with psychology -- my first correspondence declared major was sociology even though I knew I could not complete the requirements by correspondence. I hoped that they would add more disciplines (they never did).

Waterloo offers tons of courses (over 300) by correspondence so you get your degree in almost anything. I applied to change from Queen's, but Waterloo rejected me, not based on marks, but based on my crimes. It was an unbelievable letter. I'm not sure about other schools.

I was really interested in a law degree, but that is impossible. The birth certificate is taken care of.

So you want me to go on the Fifth Estate. Wow. As you know, that is something that I am very leery of. Why do you think it would be a good idea to do that? Do you really think that they will fairly portray the story? I have a huge mistrust of media and they are right up there with rest of them.

Tell me why I should do it, how it will help me. I'll listen to your arguments.

How much control would I have over the final product? 

Would Theresa produce the show?

I bought my computer through the purchasing clerk here. I know nothing about computers really. All I know is that it serves my needs! I have Windows 98 -- we aren’t allowed to have anything newer. I have version 10 of Print Shop.

It is a long story about what has been happening her to make me lose faith in people. I have to admit -- I was being a bit dramatic. But seriously, this unit is often more of a mental health unit than a max. In my letter I will tell you all about it. I don't want to make this letter too long because I am very low on printer ink, and they screwed up my order so I don't know when I will receive it.

The prison could not keep my files locked away in some drawer because my case management file alone is taller than me. Every inmate has 9 different types of files - Admissions and Discharge, Visits and Correspondence, Education and Training, Case Management, Preventive Security, Sentence Management,
Psychology, Discipline and Disassociation, I can't remember the last one, plus health care and parole on top of that.

I will do an access to information for my files as you suggested. I asked my PO for copies of some of the psych reports you asked for and she refuses to give them to me - told me to do an access to info. Unreal. I will try to get them another way otherwise it will take forever.

Private family visits...If you want to go there alone, you have to do an initial application and then see a psychologist for a suicide evaluation. Usually they make you do this evaluation before every visit, but the psychologist said it's not necessary for me.

Once you are initially accepted, you have to do an application form for every visit you want to have. You can go once a month (in this prison), allowing for availability. Family visits have priority. Each application passes in front of the visit date with you.

Then you fill out an order form for your food which is ordered from a local grocery store. You can order anything you want except for seafood and alcohol. It is very expensive. I eat mostly chicken; fruits and salads when I go and my order usually costs me between $50 and $80. It's crazy. We are allowed to pay from either account for these  visits.

There is a very strict list of people who are allowed to come to these visits. It usually has to be family -- parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, spouses. Sometimes they don't have to.
Everyone who does come has to have a community assessment with a parole officer prior to being accepted, as well as a security check.

The girl who sold the photos is named Mary Smith. She was in for manslaughter, and has an extensive criminal record. I believe that she stole at least some of the photos from my room. I had given her one (I know, a very stupid move). But she did not have all of those photos legally, I know that for sure. She is a big troublemaker. She and her girlfriend were the black sheep of the prison. I did not know that when I moved into their house. They had apparently ratted out a bunch of people in Tanguay (women's provincial jail) over some drug affair. I don't know the details. She was a horribly bossy, pushy woman and when she left everybody was happy.

Ok, test that they administered at RPC. I have to think about that one. I took the MMPI again I think... You know what? I really don't remember the names of everything I took. I did do another intelligence test. The Wechsler revised I think. I'm not sure. It was all written down in the evaluations which I will send as soon as I receive them myself. So be patient -- they will come! I don't think they did the PCL-R again though. But you know what -- I was so messed up and I have avoided thinking about my experience there so much that I can't be sure.

But Sharon Williams did it back in 1996. Were you aware of that? She scored me at a 5, maximum. I believe that psychopathy is 30. Maybe 15. I guess I really do have to get back into all of this. I have to know everything for when I pass the board. And I will call Marc Labelle tomorrow to get that file. I promise. I signed a waiver (as you now know) a long time ago. I did it because at that time I had no desire to go to the board (as you now know).

Yes, I saw Christine Perrault a few times to deal with my transfer. Of course it was a useless undertaking.

Thanks a lot for all the articles you sent. Very interesting... I really appreciate you doing things like that. I find out lots of interesting information and it makes me think -- something I am in desperate need of right now.

Diane Larivierre was my second IPL in Joliette. I started with Linda Clermont (I only had her for about a week) and then they switched me to Diane. She is a very compassionate lady who did her best to help me, but told me like it is -- no matter what I did, things were already decided. She did write my papers in a helpful way though.

Gilbert Ricer did a program called "Pouvoir D'agir sur Soi," loosely translated to self-empowerment. The program was one that he created himself. Apparently he is now doing it in prisons in France. I had asked to take the program but was originally denied by him because it was created for people who come from dysfunctional families. I convinced him to let me take it because my relationship with Paul was so dysfunctional and I was so young when I started it. He agreed, probably because I did the program in English and there weren’t many English girls doing it so I didn't take up anyone else's space. I received an excellent report from him which said, among other things, that he never saw me deny or minimize my responsibility, etc.

Joanne Fenessy did a program called Survivors of Abuse and Trauma. It was a two part program but we asked for a third part which we ended up doing on Saturdays. Again, it was a good report.

No, I did not hear rumours about me sleeping with Bob Gilles. I'd like to know how we would go about doing that in prison. I also did not know about his "nickname". People are so nice. What a stupid thing to say. No, I was not totally abandoned after the trial. Bob and Gary Beaulieu came down one more time to see me as they had promised. And Gary wrote me a very nice letter afterwards thanking me for all my help and telling me not to listen to all the critics. I never did see the prosecutors again, but I did call Bob from time to time for a while after the trial and he often had a message from Ray Houlahan.

I, too, find it very interesting the Pope declared Hell to be a state of mind. My how the Catholic church is changing. That is what I don't like about it -- religion is not supposed to change with the times.

No I have never studied Dante or Milton. It might be interesting.

Yes, I am conscious of my diet for the most part. I am still a candy addict, but less so now. I have to work at it. There is no really good candy here anyway. The food here is terrible. I am currently in a battle to get a vegetarian diet with chicken. I will win in the end, but it may take until this unit closes.

Yes, there are things I really miss. I love red wine -- Beaujolais and chianti -- and would really appreciate a glass now and then.

As for food, my whole sentence I have dreamed about having a Harvest Barn salad, cheese bread , and slice of their bumble berry pie. Harvest Barn is a little fruit-vegetable market/bakery on the same street as Martindale Animal Clinic. I used to go there for lunch often. I adore salad.

Of course in Joliette I don't miss very much as we can cook our own food. I thought I missed restaurant food, but after eating Stivia's cooking for years I'm not missing anything. Yes, we have cooking facilities here, but very limited. We have an oven with very limited utensils, pots, and pans, etc. We can order food every two weeks form the grocery store from a limited list (steak, chicken, broccoli, potatoes, bacon, carrots...) with money from our canteen account. It’s expensive, but at least we can order it if we have the money. For our food, my friend and I take her food and what we can from mine and make a meal. We often have salad and cheese toast.

So you translated the report. You are right -- I have been fighting against my transfer since I arrived here. But over Christmas I decided to stop doing that and informed my IPL. In fact, I really have accepted it and am fine with it. Everything happens for a reason and some good things have happened to me since I came here, things that never would have happened elsewhere. I did not fit in well for a while after I came, but that
has long since changed (it was only like that for a the first couple of months -- you can see how up-to-date their reports are).

Yes, my way of life is different than everyone else's. I do not smash up my cell or bang my head against the wall, or scream at the "screws" when things do not go my way. Most of the women here are like that, but are seriously attempting to change (most of them anyway).

But they do recognize that I have a calming influence on the other women. Of course they do not write something like that down in a report -- it looks too good.

But over all I would have to say that all of us have changed as a result of my being here. They are all more calm than they were before but I am less calm. I have definitely become "harder" for lack of a better word. Until I came here you would never have heard the word "screw" come out of my mouth. It's not a big deal, just indicative of things.

You correctly understood the part about being willing to participate in the sex-offender program provided it be given in Joliette. That is not at all what I said, and I didn't even say it to my PO. What I said to my IPL was that I knew it would take a good reason to send me back to Joliette, that I knew that a sex offender program would begin there soon, and that that would be a good pretext to send me back. I never said I would only do it if it were given to me there.

"De plus, elle recoit hebdomnadairement la visit de sa copine" means "as well, she receives weekly visits from her friend." They are not talking about Linda (who hasn't visited since before Christmas, by the way).

L'atelier de zootherapie is weekly canine program. A guy who works with the long sentence men in Archambault brings his wonderful dog here in the afternoon.

SPC (suivi de la plan correctionnelle) is a Correctional Plan Progress Report. They are done every 3 or 6 months (I think 6). It was recommended that I see a psychologist to help deal with my transfer, and I did, but as it says I stopped therapy shortly after because I had not trust in her. I can't say if it is translated correctly because you have the report -- I have no copy! It is not surprising that they make reference to Linda's visits -- it is normal. They do that kind of thing with everyone.

Also my PO herself told me that she has difficulty writing my papers because there is nothing really to say. They write the most ridiculous things in there -- like my requests are too scattered (I ask too many IPLs for information instead of just one -- what the hell is the point in writing that?)

You are wrong about Linda. It was not her who took me under her wing. She wasn't even Joliette when I arrived. It was a woman named Ines Barbosa (do not use her name at all or anything that would even identify her!). Ines is very respected in the population and just took it upon herself to make sure that I had an easy integration. She knew my story, that I had been in segregation for long time and that it would be hard for me to adapt. Just going for walks with me was a way to let everyone know to back off, that I had   friends.

There was another woman too, Angel, a friend of Ines’ who did the same thing. And of course there were a couple of people who came from Kingston who did the same thing. There is nothing sexual, or Hollywood about it. I even do that with some of the new girls that come in. Everyone does it. It's just a way to help people out.

I can't really comment on the rest of your comments on the report because I don't have the report. But yes, the official reason I am in max is for my protection. What a joke. The parking lot here faces our yard. If someone wanted to shoot me they could do it just as easily here as they could in Joliette.

Yes, I am receiving the pre-stamped envelopes. Thanks -- they really do help out.

No, our cells are not in the sub-basement. They are at ground-level. The windows are at about hip level (if you are short like me that is).

Sharon Williams did not do any extensive work on me. She did her evaluation and then afterwards, helped me out with some questions I was having about the future (i.e. how do I tell someone I am with about what I did, things like that). She talked to me about some of her clients and how they deal with issues like that. She did not help me with any issues of abandonment I may have been feeling. I stopped seeing Dr. Brown when he got sick and left the prison. Unfortunately, I can't remember when that was. In late 1996 I believe. I believe he was in the British army.

Thanks for the info on Danson. What a jerk. Yes, I am aware of this lawsuit. I was served while was in P4W. I know nothing about an examination for discovery in the fall. Hopefully that is not true.

I have nothing to say to him or anyone else about those crimes. 

I am told however that I do not have a choice. I'm not quite sure how to handle it. Even getting a lawyer is extremely difficult because of the difference in Quebec civil law and the rest of Canada. Nor do I think I should have to get a lawyer. I am not contesting my responsibility. I don't know why I even have to be questioned.

Christie Blatchford, huh? My mom calls her Christie Bitchford. I don't think that woman has ever said a nice word about anyone.

I get the message about Michael Code. Don’t worry -- my hopes were never up. One can hope though. And yes, it is always recommended to go to the Board with a lawyer, especially in a case like mine. I would never think of going alone. Any idea on a lawyer for me?

Thanks for the Simon Fraser application and your offer to help. That is great -- I will once again be a part of the thinking world! It's amazing how quickly one can deteriorate behind these walls. I will be applying for the fall semester seeing as I have already passed the deadline for the summer session. I'll give you more information in the next letter.

Hopefully all of this letter will print as I am dangerously low on ink. I look forward to your next letter, as always.

(signed) Karla


Dear Stephen,

Hi there. I want to apologize for the length of time it has taken me to write back. First of all things have not been going very well. My grandfather died not too long ago and I couldn’t go because of my detention order. I knew that was the way it would be, but knowing it and living it too very different things.

I have written a letter on my computer, bits and pieces, and had planned to send it a while ago. But they are playing with me again, telling me for about a month now that "it's coming" any day now. And of course it never comes. So rest assured - there is a long letter answering all your questions waiting in my computer.

Oh - I just realized I am not making sense. It's ink that I'm waiting for. I have received all of your letters, the envelopes, cards, and books you've sent. I want to reassure you that I have not changed my mind. I've just not been feeling very well because of my grandfather, and now of course I have no ink. But rest assured, as soon as I receive it you will have a long letter answering all your questions.

Later! Karla


  1. Have you any idea what the information was about Kathy and Alex Ford that Williams told Karla, Miss Kitty? Sounds as though another pair of Karla and Paul's loony friends were caught up in some "grey" activities.

    1. Great thinking, Anon! Alas, the information that Mr. Williams passed along to Killer Karla regarding her friends Kathy and Alex isn't as juicy as it may seem; I believe the news was that the Fords had divorced.

      This factoid is referenced on Page 18 of Williams' book, Karla: Pact With the Devil. Definitely seek this title out, as it's easily the most compelling of all the offerings on the subject of Homolka.

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