After attending dozens of parole hearings over the years, I’ve formed the opinion that the system mostly works and many offenders can safely re-enter society and become productive citizens.
Then there are guys like Wade Gunoff.
Gunoff, 27, is serving a three-year prison sentence for his role in beating a 61-year-old man within an inch of his life in 2006. While attending a boozy, drugged-up house party in Airdrie, Gunoff and his buddies became convinced that another man, Ken Valgardson, smashed a friend’s windshield.
No one ever established whether Valgardson did it — but even if he had, he didn’t deserve the revenge Gunoff and his cohorts meted out: their beating left Valgardson, now 64, brain injured and in need of around-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
Yet Gunoff thinks he’s the one who got the raw deal.
Gunoff recently told the National Parole Board that life inside Drumheller Institution is so intolerable that he has to cope by smoking marijuana. Despite pot being contraband — not to mention illegal — Gunoff has tested positive for THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) at least five times since his sentence started in April 2008. What’s more, Gunoff told the parole board that he plans to continue smoking up behind bars and will only stop after he’s released.
No surprise, then, that the board denied his parole application.
What the article in today’s Herald didn’t mention (it was edited for space) was that corrections officials suspect Gunoff is also involved in selling drugs being smuggled into the institution, too: staffers found a “debt sheet” during a search of his cell. They also found a cellphone charger, which, like drugs, is considered contraband.
While the parole board exercised its discretion by keeping Gunoff behind bars, authorities can do little to stop him from being freed in only four months: that’s when he’s eligible for statutory release, which is mandated by law at the two-thirds mark of an offender’s sentence.