Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Library of Parliamernt Legislative Summary of the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act

The Library of Parliament has published a legislative summary of of Bill C-48: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act (Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act):
"The bill amends the Criminal Code with respect to the parole inadmissibility period for offenders convicted of multiple murders. This is done by affording judges the opportunity to make the parole ineligibility periods for multiple murders consecutive rather than concurrent. The bill also makes consequential amendments to the National Defence Act."

"Consecutive parole ineligibility periods for multiple murderers will not be mandatory under the provisions of Bill C-48. Judges will be left with the discretion to consider the character of the offender, the nature and circumstances of the offence, and any jury recommendations before deciding upon whether consecutive parole ineligibility periods are appropriate. The bill will require that judges state orally or in writing the basis for any decision not to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods on multiple murderers (...)"

"Vigorous debate has surrounded both Bill C-48 and its predecessor, Bill C-54 (...) Sharon Rosenfeldt, a founder of the group Victims of Violence, has applauded Bill C-54. In referring to its application to serial killers, she has said that, while the bill would apply to a small number of perpetrators, these are the killers that 'cause the greatest amount of fear, controversy and unrest in our judicial system and the Canadian public ' mainly because of the horrendousness of their crimes and the number of lives they can take before being apprehended."

"One editorial has said that the bill is very reasonable, stating that the bill will acknowledge that the lives of all of a killer's victims are equally valuable and merit separate sentences of equal length. According to the editorial, the bill recognizes that some criminals are unredeemable and should never be let out of prison, but it does leave hope for some offenders, thus respecting the tripartite mandate of incarceration - punishment, public safety, and rehabilitation. This editorial goes on to say that not all killers are unredeemable and the hope of making parole offers them a tremendous incentive to rehabilitate themselves, making for a much safer atmosphere for the corrections officials who work among them."

"Professor Doug King of Mount Royal University has stated that it is unlikely that tougher parole rules will have any deterrent value. He has said that the measure may prove to be popular, but it is doubtful that it will make us safer. Professor King also points out that, while punishment is one component behind sentencing, it is not the only reason why people are placed in prison."

The document also looks at the law in a number of other jurisdictions: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, United States, New Zealand.

The progress of the bill can be followed on the LEGISinfo website. It is now in front of a House of Commons committee.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:02 pm


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