Dude, what are you smoking?

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.



Filed under Corrections

10 responses to “Dude, what are you smoking?

  1. Courtney Gunoff

    First off,
    I don’t think one person smoking weed in a Jail such as drumheller, should be targeted. It’s really unfortunate how papers DON’T have thier story right, and feel the need to pinpoint one person on account of smoking weed. I don’t see articles in this paper about other inmates smoking up, or for that matter the HARDER DRUGS being taken by OTHERS, not WADE. Well I hope you feel good for your inaccurate, and unfair story you published about a family member of mine. I just wish people knew that this guy was previously beaten up and addicted to crack. NOT an innocent man. Unlike mine, I hope your family has a merry christmas.

  2. anonymous

    Ideally they can prove the drug dealing (accusations) and keep him in jail longer. I’m surprised he did not face any additional charges at the time of the beating….

    It is sick a scumbag like that will likely get out in 4 months, really is sad.

    Jason, please keep us posted on his future endeavors.

  3. Sandra

    For my stand point;
    I believe the sentencing was appropriate for the deed, I met Wade when he was released from jail previously, from that time to now; I was happy to call him “a family figure”. Very pleasurable to be around, very kind young man.
    Wade has always smoked marijuana & if I was locked up for so long; damn id be doing harder drugs (all i do is smoke weed) so i think its unfair to pinpoint one person for smoking weed while imprisoned…. Hopefully he has learnt his lesson and can come back into society as a changed man.

  4. jasonvanrassel

    As I general rule, I believe the comments should be left for readers to have the final word. I’m making an exception in this case because I feel I have to address the idea — mentioned twice now — that I’ve somehow singled out Gunoff.
    Over the years, I’ve attended parole hearings for dozens of convicts and written about them in the Herald. (Some of which have been mentioned on this blog.) For every offender whose hearing I attend, there are still dozens more I follow through the system by requesting their records from the National Parole Board. I respect the fact you disagree with my opinion, but you’re mistaken if you think I’ve arbitrarily picked on Gunoff.

  5. anonymous reader

    do you know when wade gunoff will be released?

  6. Decent Person

    So the fine upstanding family man has now been arrested again for dealing dope. Oh but he wasn’t really doing the exchange of money and dope, he (allegedly) had an under aged girl doing the running for him. Yes, what a wonderful pillar of hope this bum is. Hopefully he’s off to jail again. Throw the key away on this bum and do us all a favour.

  7. nessa

    To Courtney:

    So are you saying that your family member is completely innocent for beating a man that was previously beaten and a crack head?

    Wade isn’t getting singled out it’s a parole hearing case that was used in an article.

    Hate to break it to you Courtney but he’s on the lifer program!

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