Ed and Debbie Sands knew the statutory release of Jesse George Hill was coming, but say now that he is out of prison they say it’s still a setback in the grieving process for their family and all the victims.
The Sands are also are concerned for the public’s safety, and even for Hill’s.
Amy Sands was killed when shots were fired through a garage door at a Calgary home in August 2012. Amy’s boyfriend, a gang member, was believed to be the intended target. Hill pleaded guilty to manslaughter, saying he did not fire the fatal shots, but he has refused to name the shooter.
He was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison in 2014. His statutory release date was Jan. 2, 2018.
Ed and Debbie Sands said Hill’s release just over five years after Amy’s murder shows the justice system is flawed
“The comments on our posts on Facebook are all the same – it’s not long enough,” Ed said.
The parole board must release Hill despite concerns that he shows a lack of remorse, shows signs that he could return to his criminal past, including drug dealing and is unsafe in the community.
The board imposed conditions that he live in a Calgary halfway house and see a psychologist.
He was forbidden from using drugs and alcohol and he must stay away from people involved in criminal activity and the victims’ family. His parole supervisor can also look at his financial information to monitor any return to crime or drug dealing.
Hill was moved to five prisons and was moved to maximum security at one point, Ed said.
“What kind of continuity of care or rehabilitation do you get moving to five different prisons?” he asked.
The parole board placed Hill under conditions, noting he hadn’t completed any programming while in prison, was charged with offences while in prison and continued his violent behaviour.
“You have four serious institutional charges,” the report reads. “One was a result of you being found in possession of a ‘stabbing weapon’ in your cell.”
According to the report released on Dec. 19, 2017, Hill also was in a fight in prison and was a member of a prison gang, but the report said he fell out of favour with this group over a drug debt.
“The Board finds that your (Hill’s) potential violent behaviour has not diminished during your incarceration,” the report reads. “You have demonstrated violent behaviour during your incarceration and have made no gains in reducing your risk factors.”
Ed said he was not surprised by the report and he didn’t think Hill would change. He also said there is a good chance there will be retribution on Hill for Amy’s death, Ed added.
“I think the situation hasn’t settled down in Calgary,” Sands said. “There are friends of Amy’s who haven’t moved on. If they find him, I feel sorry for him.”
Sands said Hill’s family are also victims in the situation and if anything happens to him they will be devastated.
In the parole board report it states that Hill has strong family support and that he wants to work on becoming a better father to his daughter. He also completed his high school education in prison.
Debbie Sands said although they’ve always known Hill would eventually be released, it is still difficult knowing Hill was out of prison.
“I feel the justice system is not really a justice system,” she said.
The best they can do is dealing with their own pain, remembering Amy and doing things that would make her proud, she said.
“At this point we have to strive for forgiveness and just moving forward,” Debbie said.
They hold an annual fundraiser in memory of Amy that last year was held in Okotoks for the first time. It raised $10,000 for the Rowan House. Proceeds from Debbie’s book, ‘A Moth to the Flame’ about Amy’s struggle with borderline personality disorder also supports the McMan Centre.
“Fundraising is part of how we cope,” she said. “Helping people who are struggling. Amy had a big heart. It is what she would have done.”