B.C.'s Justice 'lenient' sentencing up for review
BC's Attorney General "Theorizes" to the Media publicly that longer sentences for chronic repeat offenders and offenders alike doesn't relate to a safer society, certainly shows a man unclear on the concept of incarceration. A chronic offender serving a longer sentence means he is not out on the streets committing more crimes and gaining more notches on his rap sheet and tallying up more victims.
Yesterday the topic of a regional police force was bandied about by the areas police chiefs on CKNW radio. One thing that was clearly pussyfooted about was the Justice Systems historic failure to protect it's taxpaying citizens. The numerous Police chiefs interviewed on the radio from various lower mainland detachments were clearly using similar guarded phrases in not lambasting the Justice system, stating similar mantras such as "We catch up to 90% of offenders, so Policing is working" what the Police failed to recognize is that most likely 90% of those chronic repeat offenders are back out on the street due to British Columbias "Catch and Release" programs, bail and time served credits. It certainly makes one wonder who the Police departments true masters are, is it the Public or the Provincial Justice system which has failed all of us horribly. Since politicians provide Police budgets and funding through us, the Taxpayers, one doesn't need to wonder why Police are hesitant to point fingers, but only state arrests records and not conviction records. Though to be fair, the Police are not in the conviction business.
Yesterday a convicted repeat violent offender in November 2007, in a vicious 3 man swarming and ax attack recieved his just desserts. This Animal and his 2 friends left a innocent young man a parapalegic.
This repeat chronic offender Tuan Minh Nguyen (upon appeal from a previous 20 month conditional sentence in December 2007) recieved a 10 year sentence, a sentence previously upgraded when a CBC videotape and Public outrage upon viewing this offender (last December) outside the courtroom laughing and smoking a cigarette with his comrades in arms after recieving a 20 month conditional sentence.
Guess Tuan Ming Nguyen isn't smiling now at 10 years.
So I put this question to Attorney General Wally Oppal and the BC Justice system. If you had put these three repeat offenders behind bars on their previous offences and sentenced them to longer jail terms as is the norm in Justice systems in other provinces , parapalegic Michael Levy would be walking today and living a full life. So Wally, your theory of inane stupidity that longer sentences do not mean a safer public doesn't wash with me, the public and a young man whose ever eroding life is permanent and fatal in time.
Below is Ann Elk whose theorys make much more sense than Wally Oppals
B.C.'s 'lenient' sentencing regime in line for reviewNDP critic says time for study is pastJeff Rud and Lindsay Kines,
Times ColonistPublished: Thursday, February 14, 2008
Attorney General Wally Oppal says B.C. has a "serious problem" when it comes to public confidence in the province's justice system.
Elaborating on a throne speech promise for a comprehensive review of sentencing practices in B.C. courts, Oppal said yesterday that conducting such a study is an important step in fixing that problem.
"I know it's been said over and over again that our sentencing regime and our sentencing practices in this province are more lenient -- or some would say more compassionate -- than other provinces,'' Oppal said in an interview.
"I'm not so sure that's entirely accurate. I think it may be so in chronic-offender cases. So it's important that we look at all of that because public confidence and the credibility of the system, I think, is most important.''
Oppal said that if the province discovers, after collecting the data, that sentences here are more lenient, it can take action. Although judges do the sentencing, Oppal said Crown counsel can recommend stiffer sentences.
"If we get the data, we're in a position to do something about it,'' he said. "Sentencing really is in the hands of the judges. But we as a Crown have an important role to play in sentencing because they rely on our submissions and the advice that we give the courts."
NDP critic Mike Farnworth argued that the time for studying the issue is past. B.C. needs action, he said, suggesting Oppal is "out of the loop.''
"I'm concerned that this is more window dressing than actual substantive action,'' Farnworth said of the throne speech promise. "The attorney general says he's not even sure that there is a problem. Well, the fact is, if you look at certain types of crimes -- for example, bank robberies -- there are studies and reports already done that say sentencing is significantly lower for those types of crimes than in other provinces.
"We don't need studies. We need action.''
But Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon said B.C. lacks "hard data" about how its sentencing practices stack up against other provinces.
"What we do know is that there's an impression that somehow sentencing in B.C. is weaker than in other jurisdictions in Canada."
Gordon co-authored a report on crime and the criminal justice system for the B.C. Progress Board in 2006, but it relied mostly on talking to people about their impressions, he said. "Our conclusion was that it may be that the perception doesn't match the reality, but we do need to find that out."
Gordon urged the government to find a reputable independent person to lead the research.
Gordon attributed politicians' interest in sentencing to growing public concern about gangland killings on the Lower Mainland.
"One of the first places that folks tend to turn is to the courts and seeking harsher sentences for people responsible," he said. "It's a very populist approach to things.
"You'd be a fool not to be following certain populist trends. I don't think there's a huge number of votes to be gained by coming out and seeming to be soft on crime."
Oppal cautioned that "longer sentences, in and of themselves, don't translate into safer societies, otherwise the Americans would have the safest society in the world.''
He said the issue is a complex one.
"I think that this is something that we as a province have to look at -- where our system is going, chronic offenders, gang violence and all of these issues that are out there now. We need to do something about those.
"And it's safe to say that the public is concerned about public safety and crime and we're very much concerned as well."
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008