Monday, March 03, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Rules on Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in R. v. Ferguson that Parliament has the right to create mandatory minimum criminal sentences and have those measures enforced by reluctant judges.

The Court decided that judges may not grant one-time, individual exemptions from those mandatory minimums.

By coincidence, the ruling came the same week as the federal government's omnibus Tackling Violent Crime Act was passed by the Senate. That law introduces a number of new mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes.

The Library of Parliament prepared a legislative summary of the Tackling Violent Crime Act that includes a discussion of the pros and cons of mandatory minimum sentences for serious gun crimes.

Earlier Library Boy posts about mandatory minimum sentences include:
  • Library of Parliament Mini-Review of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (March 22, 2006): "The document states that studies show that a direct cause and effect relationship between mandatory minimums and a decline in crime rates can not be drawn; as well, given the many factors that can explain crime trends, studies on the effects of such sentences are considered difficult to interpret... And since the accused has no incentive to plead guilty, some fear that mandatory minimums can lead to costly trials."
  • Tougher Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes (May 4, 2006): "Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Vic Toews introduced bills to increase mandatory minimum penalties for gun crimes and to restrict conditional sentences for violent offenders."
  • Federal Justice Reforms Criticized, Stalled (January 11, 2007): "Thanks to an Access to Information request, the Toronto Star got its hands on an internal analysis conducted last year by Correctional Services Canada of the impact of the federal Conservatives' law and order agenda. In particular, the federal correctional agency appears to be concerned that the get tough on crime policies could lead to a major increase in the prison population, disproportionately affect aboriginal people, and have little deterrent effect."
  • Updated Library of Parliament Report on Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes (March 10, 2007): "The document includes sections on: History of Minimum Sentences for Firearm Offences; Constitutionality of Mandatory Minimum Sentences; Effect of Mandatory Minimum Sentences on Gun Crime :1. Canada 2. United States 3. Effect of Imprisonment Generally 4. Incidental Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentences; Description and Analysis"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:39 pm

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