Whitehorse Daily Star

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"Club Fed" Inmates at the medium-security William Head Institution have a six-hole golf course at their disposal. Klassen resides in an open prison environment sharing a duplex with 4 other inmates.

Inmates enjoy superb view, golf course

Victoria - Waiting upstairs for the 47-year-old ex-minister's parole hearing to begin on Wednesday, Brenda McDonald, whose sister Susan was killed by Klassen three years ago, looked out the window and commented on the stunning view.

By Whitehorse Star on December 1, 1998

Victoria - Waiting upstairs for the 47-year-old ex-minister's parole hearing to begin on Wednesday, Brenda McDonald, whose sister Susan was killed by Klassen three years ago, looked out the window and commented on the stunning view.

As the sun was finding its way into the morning sky, the mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca were shrouded in mist. The ocean was shimmering blue, and a black cat was running across the lawn of a little house with a white picket fence where inmates can spend 72 hours every four months with visiting parents, wives or children.

Klassen has been living in the prison since he was found guilty of manslaughter in January 1997 for strangling his wife in their Lake Laberge home. He will remain in custody after being turned down for parole Wednesday.

The facility has a golf course. Mind you, it's only six holes, stresses assistant warden Randie Scott, and is more like a pitch-and putt- then a course. But, as reporters were shuttled around the grounds, inmates could be seen wandering around in shorts and T-shirts, practicing their swing.

Scott, who has been in the corrections system for 25 years, knows people call the prison Club Fed. He knows of a lot of people hear about the golf course and wonder who is being punished.

But the assistant warden insists William Head is the best and most effective prison he has ever worked in.

"For people who are willing to do something about why they are in the system to begin with, this is a good place. "This is a place that is open and tests them," he says.

Everywhere you look, you see crashing waves, and a gentle ocean breeze tickles your face.

"The topographical makeup of the area can best be described as rocky hill-sides, deep ravines and valleys, scrub brush and heavy bush. The climate is typical maritime, moderate and dry," says the information to the media.

Scott says those we see enjoying a game of golf have been given the free time because they are either off work, or have completed their class or their counselling sessions.

William Head can hold a maximum number of 240 men, and all of them must be busy during the day, says Scott.

Inmates live in two-story duplexes, called community buildings, with four other men. Within the community building is a staff office, common area, boardroom, laundry and living space.

Through one of the windows, you can see the glow of a big-screen television and huge plants that have done well in the western sun.

Originally a quarantine station from 1881 to 1958, William Head was taken over by Canada Corrections in 1959. Until 1976, it was mainly used to house the overflow of inmates from the B.C. Penitentiary and was classified as a minimum-security prison.

On Oct. 1, 1976, it was reclassified as a medium-security prison.

Comments (1)

Up 1 Down 0

Daniel Tetreault - Cardiology Technologist on Jan 9, 2016 at 10:47 am

Hmmm....interesting to say the least. I cannot believe that 'criminals' are being punished here. I have read a few articles on 'Club Fed' and believe those inmates have a better life than I do. Access to golf courses, townhouse-like living quarters, residences all to ones self? However, they do have to make their own meals...boo-hoo. Hard lives! I can safely assume that inmates are having their groceries paid for at tax-payers expenses. Brutal.

Dan.

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