But those who know Acoby suggest it was overly harsh treatment that provoked her attacks in the first place.
They insist she’d benefit from softer surroundings and isn’t a lifelong danger to the community outside the confines of penitentiary walls.“Renee is incredibly articulate, incredibly bright, and given other opportunities could be in postgraduate school,” says Kim Pate, executive director of advocacy group the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, who corresponds regularly with inmates.
During her 11 years in prison, she has been convicted in five hostage-takings and numerous assaults on staff and other inmates.“Looking back at it, it is self-defeating. In a system that purports to focus on rehabilitation, should these women be treated as victims or callous criminals?
It’s wrong, completely wrong to do that,” Acoby says.“It just felt like we were trying to do everything the right way . “Somebody who has committed a crime, a violent crime, against somebody else — how are they less dangerous because they are female?
” asks Kevin Grabowsky, Prairie regional president of the guards’ union.
Prison guards like Godin and Grabowsky want Acoby and a handful of other dangerous women moved out of regular female institutions into their own special unit similar to one designed for men.
EDMONTON - The most dangerous woman in Canada emerges from a prison segregation area, slender and stoic.
He calls her “extremely violent and dangerous.”Acoby has been inside for more than a decade and there is no end in sight, the result of a string of crimes perpetrated by the 32-year-old mother while in the federal penal system. It’s like you’re one bull, against 100.”Her compelling case lies at the crux of a key question in women’s corrections today: What happens to the country’s most difficult female offenders?
And, she’s a woman.“She comes across as sort of spiritual, she’s pleasant, nice, bright.
And so she really has that sort of demeanour to her.
Acoby, only the third female dangerous offender in Canadian history, has spent the better part of her lengthy sentence in solitary confinement.
As the fortified door shuts behind her, she slides her hands through a rectangular slot. Wearing a knitted cap almost as dark as her jet-black hair and pencil-lined eyes, Renee Acoby sits behind a wall of protective glass, the dim light crudely reflecting the freckled beauty of her high cheekbones. She joins a list of notorious criminals such as Paul Bernardo, serial child molester Gary Walker and, most recently, HIV killer Johnson Aziga.The difference is most of Acoby’s crimes took place while she was already incarcerated.