Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prison instructor pleads guilty to smuggling drugs

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HE was a trusted employee at Stony Mountain Institution, helping inmates learn skills they could hopefully put to good use once they were released.

But John Lightfoot was doing much more than just masonry instruction -- he was smuggling drugs into the medium-security federal prison.

Lightfoot, 58, has now pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his 2011 arrest. His sentencing was set for Monday, but has been adjourned until June 25 because of time constraints.

It should be a revealing hearing, as the Crown plans to call expert evidence about the prevalence of prison drug smuggling and the impact such offences has on inmates, many of whom are struggling with addictions as they try to rebuild their broken lives.

A recent report from Correctional Services of Canada estimated 80 per cent of inmates arrive at federal institutions with substance-abuse problems, creating a potentially lucrative market for drug dealers. As well, RCMP and CSC say throwing bags, condoms or balloons full of drugs into Stony's prison yard is becoming increasingly common. There have been more than a dozen reported incidents in the past three years.

In Lightfoot's case, he was accused of trying to bring ecstasy, crystal meth and prescription pills into the facility. RCMP seized drugs, cash and other items from a vehicle parked outside the prison.

The drug-smuggling issue was front and centre during a 2010 Manitoba inquest that looked at the deaths of three inmates who overdosed inside Stony Mountain.

Raynold Gerling, Shawn Jones and Brian Palmquist, all 28 years old, died in 2006 and 2007 with methadone in their bodies. Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat people addicted to drugs such as codeine, heroin or morphine. It helps addicts manage cravings for drugs, but can be fatal for people who do not take it regularly.

Inmates who have medical approval to be on a prison methadone program must agree to avoid non-prescription drugs and must agree to urine testing. But there was plenty of evidence during the inquest about various ways methadone is being smuggled into the prison, then sold on the black market.

"A recurring theme in the evidence, whether from prison staff or physicians, was that one ought never to underestimate the creativity of inmates to devise diversion tactics," provincial court Judge Rocky Pollock wrote in his report.

He made a series of recommendations for Stony Mountain to continue reviewing how staff diagnose addicts and detect and handle methadone within the prison to ensure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 28, 2013 A5

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