Close shot of smiling black man with cornrow braids
Cecil Boutilier. Photo: Cecil Boutilier

Cecil Boutilier said he feels an interview he did with the Halifax Examiner in January was the reason his *statutory release was revoked and he was sent back to Springhill Institution in February.

“I do feel that that’s the reason why I got sent back in,” Boutilier said recently in a follow-up interview with the Examiner. “And I don’t regret doing it, no, because … that’s the proof right there, you know, how they operate.”

“It’s like they want to do things behind closed doors because they can get away with it, right? So when you kind of expose them, then they’re going to try to shut you down. And that’s exactly what they did.”

Boutlier’s sentence recently expired for a 2015 car theft that also lead to a manslaughter conviction.

In January, Boutilier spoke to the Examiner about what he said were arbitrary restrictions being placed on him at a halfway house, Jamieson  Centre, where he was serving parole, that prevented him from running a business and earning a living.

Left Photo: diagonal view of a small bedroom with a bed and other belongings on the inside, Right photo: straight shot through the door of the room showing a desk, a laptop, papers and envelopes, and other belongings
Photo: Cecil Boutilier

He also talked abut COVID restrictions at Jamieson Centre that contradicted information he was given in prison when he decided to get vaccinated. He described how he felt the nature of the restrictions not only placed unnecessary barriers for residents at Jamieson Centre to be able to work, but how he felt they also placed residents at greater risk of actually contracting COVID.

On February 1, a week after his story was published in the Examiner, Boutilier said his parole officer requested an interview with him.

“His first thoughts were about the interview that I did. He saw the article and he said that he wasn’t impressed,” Boutilier said.

“And he said that I shouldn’t talk about the Parole Board of Canada, I shouldn’t talk about them the way that I did, and he said he wasn’t happy about it, basically. And then the next day, police showed up and I got arrested.”

Boutilier said the police told him he was being arrested for intimidation. He said he initially thought it was with respect to the meeting with his parole officer.

He said he later discovered, however, that he was accused of intimidating another resident at the halfway house, who Boutilier said is a convicted sex offender.

“There were two sex offenders that were living in close quarters to me, and I don’t associate with people of that sort,” Boutilier said. “So, I mean I didn’t intimidate anybody, but at the same time I didn’t associate with them. I didn’t speak to them. I just did my own thing.”

Boutilier spent a month at Springhill Institution before being given another statutory release on March 2. He was moved to New Brunswick where he spent a month at another halfway house until his sentence expired on March 29.

The Examiner contacted the Parole Board of Canada for comment about Boutilier’s case.

“The Parole Board of Canada is not able to confirm or disclose details of any specific offender cases,” spokesperson Julie Leblanc wrote in an email. “However, you can request a copy of the Board’s decision through our decision registry.”

The Examiner applied for a copy of the decision, and received one. According to that decision, Boutilier was complying with most of his expectations of release but that there was “hearsay” that Boutilier “would encourage other residents to mess things up so offenders charged with certain offences would have to clean up the mess.”

The decision reads, in part:

On February 2, 2022, it came to the attention of the Community Correctional Centre (CCC) staff that you went into the room of another resident and accused him of taking your cleaning job; you demanded that he give you money as you needed this to pay back another resident you had borrowed money from. The other resident felt like he had no choice but to give you the money and feared for his safety and believed that you could become more confrontational and possibly violent. He also suspected that you were stealing his food but did not have any proof. Your release was suspended.

During your post-suspension interview, you denied that you owed money and claimed that you asked for money but that you were acting as the go-between for the concerned resident and someone else. When asked about other issues regarding certain offenders, you hung up the phone.

Your Case Management Team (CMT) recommends that your statutory release be revoked. They believe that your risk is no longer manageable in the community due to your intimidating behaviour.

The Board notes you were in the community approximately 7 1⁄2 months during which time you successfully completed Community Maintenance Programming, you were open with your CMT, you kept your appointments as expected, and you had family supports. It is noted you did not seek any employment opportunities while in the community and you did not seek any cultural services.

There were some noted incidents of negative behaviour during your time in the community. For example, file information indicates you attempted to run a business from the CCC and you were suspected of stealing food from the kitchen. However, in February 2022 you exhibited intimidating and threatening behaviour towards another resident. You denied this behaviour at a post suspension interview.

The Board accepts the information provided about your intimidating and threatening behaviour as reliable. The Board finds that your behaviour had deteriorated to the point of undue risk, as reflected by your threatening and intimidating behaviour towards another resident.

Back behind the walls

When Boutilier was sent to Springhill, he said there was a mandatory two-week COVID quarantine for everyone entering the facility and he was on lockdown 24 hours a day.

He said it wasn’t until four days after being sent back that he learned his daughter needed emergency surgery for a burst appendix.

“She was at the hospital, crying,” Boutilier said. “She wanted me to be there because she thought she was gonna die. And I’m sitting in a box thinking about this. I should have been there for her.”

After the two-week quarantine, Boutilier said he was moved to a 23-hour detention unit for another two weeks.

“There’s zero phone access,” Boutilier said. “You have like a 1% chance of using the phone every other day. It was ridiculous. So it was hard. I wasn’t able to get things in place [to come] home. So when I got released, they kicked me out in New Brunswick, and I made my way back to Halifax. And now I’m here, where am I going to go? What am I going to do? Where’s all my things? They have all my belongings at Jamieson Centre in storage, but I had no place to put them.”

On March 3, Boutilier was given a statutory release and was moved to a halfway house in Saint John, NB. On March 29, his sentence expired, and he moved back to Dartmouth where he’s currently living with a relative.

He said his daughter is doing well and is on the mend.

Freedom and No More Excuses

Boutilier said he’s in the process of finding a new place, so he can get his belongings from Jamieson Centre, and get his business back on track.

NME brand clothing and tattoos designed by Cecil Boutilier.  Photos: Cecil Boutilier.

“It was unfortunate, the turn of events that happened when I went back,” Boutilier said. “It wasn’t easy, all the lockdowns. Like this whole entire year up until the 29th, when I got out last month, I was locked down, isolated. It started with the COVID quarantine at the halfway house, and then when that was done, boom, I went right to the quarantine at Springhill, and then the temporary detention unit at Springhill.”

“But I’m staying focused, I’m staying positive, and I’m motivated. And I think that’s the key. And I think that things are going to work out. And you’re going to see a lot of NME (No More Excuses) brand clothing around the city here pretty soon.”

close-shot of a Black man in a black wave cap holding a tattoo gun
Cecil Boutilier. Photo: Cecil Boutilier
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Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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