Reclaiming control

St. Boniface - Saturday, June 31, 2004 - by: Mike Reilly


The recent abundance of conditional sentences for violent criminals is another example of parliament neglecting to do the unglamorous detail work necessary with strong legislation. When the Liberals brought in the conditional sentence provisions, the intent had been to reduce prison overcrowding by giving judges the discretion to avoid imprisoning a low risk offender in certain circumstances. However, Parliament left the legislation void of detailed guidelines before shifting their focus to another piece of self serving legislation.
  Judges were then left to interpret the law with little direction, and as Canada's Common Law is built on precedent, dispensing conditional sentences became more and more common. Ultimately, criminals who were never the target of the conditional sentence legislation, benefited from Ottawa's leadership vacuum.


It is time for Parliament to reclaim its responsibility of passing complete, detailed legislation. From ratifying Kyoto with no implementation plan, to reforming healthcare without any strategy or targets, this government must do more that hold press conferences and commission reports.




Mike Reilly

  Condition Sentences of Imprisonment, April 30, 2003, Department of Justice
  Alberta Justice and Attorney General, The Conditional Sentence of Imprisonment: The need for amendment, (PDF) June 17, 2003
  Conditional Sentence Supervision, Government of Saskatchewan, Corrections and Public Safety
  Madigan, Jennifer, Making better citizens, not better criminals, November 29, 2002, Capital News Online
  The John Howard Society of Alberta, Conditional Sentences (PDF) September 2000


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