Thursday, January 11, 2007

Federal Justice Reforms Criticized, Stalled

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.

The Conservative justice platform includes things such as:

  • mandatory minimum prison sentences
  • restrictions to statutory release of inmates
  • consecutive sentences for multiple violent or sexual offences
  • automatic "dangerous offender" designation for anyone convicted of a third violent or sexual offence

The Star article ("Jailers fear PM's justice overhaul") outlines the criticisms of many of those proposals by Correctional Services officials.

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly (vo. 26, no. 33) reports in an article entitled Conservative justice agenda undone heading into new year that there are "11 justice-related bills stuck at first reading and awaiting critical appraisal by the opposition-dominated Commons Justice Committee".

Related Library Boy posts:

  • 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."
  • Reverse Onus for Gun Crimes (November 26, 2006): "The federal government's proposed new gun crimes legislation would put the burden on serious gun crimes suspects seeking bail to show cause why they should not stay in custody... On January 2, the Globe and Mail, in an article entitled 'Targeting gun offences presents legal quagmire', quoted various legal experts as saying it is a 'total crap shoot' whether reverse onus would survive a constitutional challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm


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