Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lamb wants to follow righteous path after prison

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HE'S a convicted killer, serial criminal offender and crack cocaine addict who has spent most of his adult life behind bars for acts committed to fuel his drug habit.

Despite this, Shawn Lamb insists he'll get parole at the earliest possible date and will set off on a righteous path free of drugs and crime.

But he has his work cut out for him if he's going to whip his life into shape, a Winnipeg psychologist concludes in an in-depth assessment on Lamb obtained by the Free Press Friday.

"I'm going to be out in a decade," Lamb told the Free Press in an exclusive interview from jail Friday, less than 24 hours after he was sentenced to 20 years for killing Carolyn Sinclair and Lorna Blacksmith.

"Oh yeah. I've got my release date marked down. I'll get out. I'm going to work to make myself a better person," he said.

"He sees himself not as a person who has abused drugs in the past, he identifies fundamentally as being a drug user. It is central to his understanding of who he is." Dr. Kent Somers on Shawn Lamb

Lamb, 54, will be able to request parole when he is 63, after serving nine years. Barring changes to federal parole legislation, he would also likely be eligible for statutory release after serving two-thirds of his time.

But he'll have to commit to fundamentally changing his behaviour if he's to avoid the cycle of severe substance abuse that's led him back to prison time and again -- this time for committing two brutal homicides while in crack cocaine-influenced rages.

That's the view of Dr. Kent Somers, who recently interviewed Lamb several times at Headingley Correctional Centre and put him through a battery of psychological tests in preparation for a report that was tabled at sentencing.

"His history of substance abuse has not only been chronic, but has been the template for his identity," Somers wrote. "He sees himself not as a person who has abused drugs in the past, he identifies fundamentally as being a drug user. It is central to his understanding of who he is," Somers wrote.

"Significant and lasting behaviour change, for which he expresses a desire, will be a function of long-term, diligent, intentional and strategic efforts to effect those changes," he wrote.

Lamb, who began seriously using street drugs at age 15 in Ontario, reached a point where his addiction and thirst to get his next fix made him "egocentric, callous, ruthless and reckless," the report said. No price was too great to obtain drugs or get the cash to buy them.

"He acknowledged having threatened or assaulted others so as to get their drugs, money or belongings," Somers wrote. Lamb then appeared to back off from the implications of this admission, the report states.

Lamb killed Sinclair and Blacksmith during arguments over drugs in his apartment on Notre Dame Avenue. They were killed in separate incidents weeks apart.

"He qualified his statement, that such violence only occurred during an intense binge of alcohol and drug use," Somers wrote.

"He denied that he habitually used violence in an instrumental manner and did not endorse violence as a valid means to an end."

Lamb expressed remorse to Somers over the killings, saying he had "acted rashly, ragefully and with excessive force."

But Lamb's guilt "accumulates" into shame and self-loathing and feeds his drug-abuse cycle, Somers said. "His abuse of substances precludes his remorse being translated into positive behaviour changes of any lasting nature," Somers wrote.

The doctor advocates careful "strategic planning" if Lamb is ever allowed out of prison. He'll also require health and mental-health supports, vocational training and a likely stint of residential treatment. "None of these are trivial tasks, but all are components in increasing the probability of being successful in maintaining a sober, crime-free and (hopefully) satisfying lifestyle in the future," Somers wrote.

Lamb told the doctor any gains he might make would be "hard won" and he'd be setting himself up to fail if he tried hoping for a "quick means of fixing his life," the report said.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 A4

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