Sex offender with severe mental health issues handed indefinite sentence by Alberta top court

·2 min read

A dangerous sexual offender whose sentence was originally crafted because of unique circumstances, including that she is a transgender woman with serious mental health issues, has been handed an indefinite prison term by the province's highest court.

Lucy Blackplume, 30, who committed her crimes in Alberta and Saskatchewan when she went by the name Josiah Blackplume, most recently pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

Blackplume functions cognitively as a child and is unable to control her sexual urges, judges have been told.

Following a sentencing hearing in October 2019, Blackplume was designated a dangerous offender.

Provincial court Judge Anne Brown sentenced her to 10 years in prison followed by a 10-year community supervision order despite the prosecution arguing for an indefinite sentence.

On Thursday, a panel of Alberta Court of Appeal judges overturned the sentence, allowed the Crown appeal and imposed an indeterminate prison term.

'Abysmal' response to treatment

In February 2015, Blackplume tried to rape a woman at knifepoint, stabbing her in the arm before someone responded to the victim's screams and pulled the attacker off.

Blackplume's criminal record dates back 13 years and began with a sexual assault. Most of her convictions involve sexual violence.

Brown described Blackplume's response to treatment as "abysmal," which experts who testified at the sentencing hearing explained was because of her cognitive limitations.

Blackplume most likely suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and functions cognitively at the level of a nine- or 10-year-old child.

"She cannot understand the impact of her decisions, exercise self-control or filter impulses. This cognitive deficit will be lifelong, and she requires a high level of in-the-moment support," noted the appeal court in its 12-page decision.

Blackplume's upbringing

Blackplume also exhibits features of antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy.

In 2012, A Saskatoon judge noted Blackplume had significant mental health issues including schizophrenia.

Originally from the Blood Tribe, Blackplume was repeatedly sexually assaulted by family members as a child and was abused by her parents. By 12 years old, she made her first of many suicide attempts.

Brown imposed a fixed sentence because of the lack of resources available in the penitentiary system, Blackplume's personal circumstances as a transgender woman and her mental health issues.

Brown ruled that locking up Blackplume indefinitely would amount to cruel and unusual punishment, but the Court of Appeal disagreed, finding her unique circumstances do not outweigh the need to protect the public.

"An indeterminate sentence must be imposed," reads the decision.