Conservative Law & Order agenda

Stephen LaFrenie

I am tired of Conservative law and order and social order campaigns being predicated on finding the poorest and most defenceless in society and promising to kick their guts out. This may appeal to some narrow minded middle and upper class citizens who live in denial but it solves nothing. One thing I respect about the GPC (and NDP) for that matter is the steadfast belief that we should look at problems holistically. So to this end I disagree with the "three strikes your out" rule proposed by Minister Toews because it simply doesn't work. It doesn't address the violent nature of particular crimes. I’m not sure that Paul Bernardo would have qualified under the Conservative government’s "three strikes" rule. However the Dangerous Offender legislation does address the nature of a violent crime and the person committing it. If the Dangerous Offender legislation needs to be strengthened then that is something we should look into.

There is justification for minimum and time added sentences because the intent behind using a weapon to commit a crime is different. There is a tangible difference between conducting a crime without a weapon and bringing one into the situation. Your willingness in a crime to use lethal force and violence to make it succeed should be considered in the sentencing upon conviction. There is also justification for allowing judges to consider past convictions when sentencing someone. Past convictions cannot be used during the trial and this is right. A person must be convicted on the evidence presented in a fair trial concerning the crime only, not past history. However after being convicted on the merits of the case a judge should be able to consider prior history, circumstance and distinct patterns when considering sentencing. This must be left up to the judge and cannot be dictated according to arbitrary formula by the government. Three strikes your out concepts also don’t take into account the circumstance surrounding the individual events, treatment for addictions, etc. It is prejudicial towards lower income people who are more readily convicted than wealthier people with the ability to evade conviction on a violent crime by arguing down to a lesser non-violent crime.

Minimum sentences or time added sentences can work only if we also look at the nature of the prison system. I believe we need prison reform and to this end believe that minimum sentences and time added sentences won't work because the prison system does not address fully the potential of rehabilitation. It makes no sense to me to take a young man out of a street gang environment and throw him into a prison gang environment and throw away the key. Investment is needed into the "quality" of society and the "quality" of prison rehabilitation

Parole eligibility should be based on educational advancement and not just good behavior. I would accept a reworking of the young offenders act if youth prison reform was advanced. I could accept longer sentences for violent crime if this were the case. When I was working on a project for the Portage School for Young Offenders one of the philosophies of the program was that none of the young people sentenced to be there could ever ‘feel’ comfortable. They were there to confront the problems and reasons for their choices. The choices that brought them into the system whether it was alcohol/drug abuse, anger, etc. There was no condemnation but there was no blame shifting either. The program was constantly challenging which helped produce real changes in many young offenders.

This blog reflects my personal opinion.
It is not official Green Party Policy.