Child poisoner’s release record reveals troubling assessment

Serial child poisoner Christine Allen is free from prison after serving two thirds of her prison sentence but there’s a deeply troubling revelation in the internal document (read it after the jump) that was completed before she was turned loose this week. Allen, 36, from Kitchener, Ontario, admitted feeding over-the-counter eyedrops to four children, including a newborn girl who shows signs of developmental problems. Allen was a babysitter and unlicensed daycare operator. She spiked juice she gave to children. She pleaded guilty to four charges of administering a noxious substance with intent to cause bodily harm – though she had been charged with poisoning eight children and an adult. 

It’s possible that Allen will reoffend violently against young children – police believe she poses a serious threat – because we don’t know what drives her. This is the troubling revelation: that authorities don’t know why Allen poisoned children; they don’t understand her mental health problems and they’re not sure how to create a plan to try to ensure she doesn’t do it again – or something else violent. Remarkably, this information appears as a written admission that, during the 39 months Allen was in penitentiary, experts weren’t able to figure her out.

Here’s the alarming passage that appears in the written record of a parole board review conducted before Allen was released from prison:

A Psychological Assessment (PA) dated March 8, 2017 indicates that your lack of insight for your offences is problematic as you are unable to articulate the specific psychological motivations for the violence you perpetrated. The PA indicates that a much greater understanding of your violent offending, attitudes towards children, maladaptive coping, and mental health needs is needed for the development of an effective relapse prevention plan.

Child poisoner Christine Allen in a photo released by Peel police

So we haven’t drafted an “effective relapse prevention plan?”Then why did we release her? This is a complex question, bound up in the intricacies of a criminal justice system that is a very blunt instrument for dealing with people, like Allen, who are deeply disturbed but who have not killed anyone and who don’t have a lengthy criminal record. She was freed on statutory release after serving two thirds of her penitentiary sentence. Stat release is a form of automatic freedom granted to most federal prisoners that permits them to complete the final third of the sentence in the community, in theory, under close supervision and while continuing to undergo treatment. It’s not clear how treatment is possible in Allen’s case, if the experts don’t understand her. The parole board did not have any discretion to order Allen kept in prison. It could only impose strict conditions, given that Corrections Canada did not recommend her detention.

Corrections can recommend to the parole board that it keep a dangerous prisoner locked up until sentence expiry. If detained, Allen could have been kept behind bars for another 20 months. But that option wasn’t on the table. Police clearly think Allen is dangerous. Police in the region where she’s living issued a public alert because of concern that she is “at an elevated risk to reoffend.” Peel Regional Police say Allen is living in Brampton, near Toronto. The department said it will work closely with Correctional Service Canada to keep tabs on her.

This carousel of the bizarre seems to turn on the fact that Allen didn’t kill anyone and hasn’t, apparently, committed any violent crimes previously. This meant she was, in the eyes of the correctional system, a first-time offender on a relatively short, fixed sentence who is not a good candidate for intensive treatment and who was set to be automatically released after spending just two thirds of her sentence behind bars – unless detained, of course. But we know she wasn’t detained, again, because she’s a first-time federal offender on a relatively short sentence. Yes, this clearly is a self-perpetuating loop of insanity.

Allen’s lawyer said, in court, that she used illicit drugs and has bipolar disorder. But this doesn’t explain why she would want to poison young children, including a baby. Maybe she’s a sadistic psychopath (in the clinical sense) and she enjoyed watching the children suffer? Maybe she drew pleasure from inflicting pain, much like a sadistic rapist (someone like serial killer Henry Williams, for instance)? The experts don’t appear to know, given the dearth of information in her written parole record. 

The parole board ordered Allen to meet regularly with a mental health team, to undergoing treatment that is ordered and to take any prescription drugs required.

She’s also barred from being around children under the age of 16 unless accompanied by a responsible adult who knows her criminal past and has been approved by her parole supervisor.

They’re good conditions. But they will be enforceable for just 20 months.

The written record of the May 2017 Parole Board of Canada decision to impose conditions on Allen’s statutory release:

The community alert issued by Peel Police:

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