Nunavut man denied parole, wait-listed for sex offender treatment

An Iqaluit man, who was declared a dangerous offender and has been wait-listed for a high-risk sex offender program, has been denied parole.

Jimmy Partridge, 52, was handed a sentence with no end date in 2009 for sexual assault and breach of a court order to stay away from children, according to a decision from the Parole Board of Canada decision released Tuesday. 

The dangerous offender designation is meant to be reserved for the most serious violent and sexual offenders, and may be accompanied by an indefinite prison sentence. Partridge got the designation after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls who were in his trust, between 1988 and 1991. He was the second person in Nunavut's history to be deemed a dangerous offender. 

In its decision, the parole board says it denied Partridge full parole and day parole, as he presents an "undue risk to society if released." 

'Significant' mental health problems

According to parole board documents, the board reached its decision even though Partridge's Oct. 4 hearing was cut short because he was "having difficulties understanding the hearing process and appeared to be in distress." A later assessment given to the board said Partridge was incapable of participating in his own hearing due to "mental deterioration."

Indeed, Partridge was declared "mentally unfit" during his initial dangerous offender hearing in 2008. The parole board says past psychological assessments of Partridge found "significant" mental health problems and cognitive deficits, including schizophrenia, substance abuse disorder, antisocial personality disorder and organic brain syndrome.

The board says the most recent psychological risk assessment of Partridge was done in 2017, but that he refused to participate in it. It also says his last Specialized Sex Offender assessment was done in 2009, the year he was sentenced.

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Wait-listed for programming

Partridge is a high risk for committing another sexual offence, says the board, and yet, he remains on a wait list for the High Intensity Sex Offender Program. 

The program for men who are at a high risk of reoffending teaches skills to help reduce their "risky and harmful behaviours," and help them change their attitudes and beliefs, according to Correctional Service Canada. 

The program is only available at four prisons: Atlantic Institution in New Brunswick, Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec, Millhaven Institution in southern Ontario, and Stony Mountain Institution near Winnipeg. It's not clear where Partridge is incarcerated, as Correctional Service Canada will not disclose that for privacy reasons.

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The board says that because Partridge has yet to complete the program, he remains "an untreated sex offender."

CBC News asked Correctional Service Canada, which oversees federal prisoners, why Partridge is on a wait list for this sex offender program, even though he's been incarcerated for more than 10 years. 

The correctional service declined a request for an interview, but spokesperson Véronique Rioux said in an email that it's mandated to give inmates "essential health care and reasonable access to non-essential mental health care that will contribute to the inmate's rehabilitation and reintegration into the community." 

Rioux said corrections operates five treatment centres for male inmates with serious mental health conditions, but wouldn't confirm whether Partridge has ever been admitted to one.

Under the Privacy Act, corrections can't disclose information about the "specifics of an offender's case," said Rioux. 

Resources not available in Nunavut

Partridge's criminal history dates back to 1982 and includes more than 45 criminal convictions ranging from assault and sexual assault, to prison break.

According to the parole board, Partridge, who is Inuk, was born in Iqaluit and raised by his parents. He has said he never felt loved by his family and that he used alcohol to deal with his emotions. 

The board says that systemic issues that affect Indigenous people, such as loss of culture, may be a factor in Partridge's criminal behaviour. 

The board notes that Nunavut judges have tried many times, and failed, to find resources inside and outside Nunavut to help Partridge, and as a result, he was "cycling in and out of psychiatric hospitals, continuing to re-offend."

Partridge has been denied parole three times before, and each time it was determined there weren't programs available in the community to manage the risk he posed of reoffending.

The board notes "with concern" the many times Partridge misbehaved while incarcerated. He's kicked and spit at staff, touched female staff inappropriately and made sexual comments to them.

It says Partridge is at a high risk of committing another sex crime, and that his accountability, motivation level and potential for reintegration into the community are rated "low."