Dec 21, 2011 - JUSTICE NOT SEEN TO BE DONE (Brad & Krista howe's case)

Some of the most vocal opponents of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s omnibus crime bill are in the justice system. Minimum jail terms for crimes inhibits judges’ power to truly make punishments fit the crime, we are told.

Similarly, members of the justice system are taking lead roles in combatting both Alberta’s and B.C.’s new drunk driving laws. Taking away driving privileges and handing out stiff fines, should you blow .05 per cent blood alcohol at a Check Stop, amounts to conviction when under the Criminal Code no crime has been committed. That’s what we are told.

Canada’s system of evidence-based prosecution and our precedent-based system of jurisprudence are sound, we are told. They should be trusted to deliver reliable convictions and just punishments, we are told.

And then we are handed Chad Olsen, a driver whose record included three previous licence suspensions for numerous driving offences. A driver who got drunk and raced his truck through an intersection, killing the parents of five children. Who, as friends and relatives of Krista and Brad Howe remind us, has not even spent one Christmas away from home as a result of his deadly crimes.

If either Harper or Alberta Premier Alison Redford needed one example of why the current justice system cannot be relied upon, the federal parole board just handed them one in Olsen.

The community’s abhorrence of a crime is frequently cited in sentencing. That’s one of the considerations judges make when deciding sentencing, along with deterrence, the need for society to be protected and the convicted person’s likelihood of reform.

But when the judge hands down a sentence, and that sentence is appealed to be made harsher (a very serious matter because it implies the original judge made a mistake), and then the parole board tosses it out months later — where is the public to put its trust? Did all the judges make mistakes that the parole board had to correct?

This is the moment when both our federal and provincial governments can step in and declare that judges and the parole board need to be taken in hand. The job of punishing evildoers is now a political hotcake.

This is not a good day for people who want to believe in the supremacy of the law, the sagacity of judges or the inevitability of justice.

A lot of political hay is being made in that the federal government has not measured the cost of its massive crime bill. The provinces are being told on one hand that it’s their job to pay for a huge expansion of the prison system, while statisticians are saying crime is on the downswing anyway, and the feds are saying these prison cells are to house the perpetrators of “unreported crime.”

These are the people who say they need to take judges in hand?

Any literate person you meet on the street knows that Olsen needs a more jail time, to figure out what he didn’t learn from his previous three suspensions. Only then might he be ready for a halfway house to learn some new life strategies. Strategies that will include never being allowed to control a motor vehicle again, ever.

There are lines that, once crossed, cannot be crossed back. You can’t drink and drive and destroy whole families, expect to pay that back and be allowed the same privileges as everyone else.

Do we really need a Harper omnibus crime bill to put things back in balance?

Source: Red Deer Advocate


Last updated on: 2013-01-16 | Link to this post