Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mass murderers can get real "life" sentences under new Tory proposal!

FINALLY... multiple murderers will be actually eligable to serve the sentence they deserve under new Tory legislation designed to allow judges the OPTION (but not requiring them) to sentence multiple murderers to CONSECUTIVE, rather than CONCURRENT, life sentences.

So instead of allowing Paul Bernardo or Robert Pickton to apply for parole after just 25 years, Paul would have to wait for 50 years... and Mr. Pickton would have to wait until, umm, well, never.

By giving the discretsion to the judges themselves is also a great move, as it will make it harder to challenge via a Charter appeal, and will put the onus on the judiciary to make the call. Therefore, those really deserving of long prison terms will get what they deserve, as you'd think no rationally-minded judge would cause a public outcry by letting a multiple murderer off lightly by granting concurrent sentences.

Another good move by Team Harper. Just TRY and oppose this one Team Iffy...
Tories want multiple killers to face real life terms
The Canadian Press
Date: Thursday Oct. 29, 2009 6:46 AM ET

OTTAWA — The federal government plans to bring in legislation to allow judges to impose what are essentially consecutive life sentences for multiple murderers.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Wednesday he wants to ensure that serial killers or repeat killers pay an appropriate price.

"Life will mean life," he said.

He said the legislation means an end to what he calls volume discounts for multiple murderers.

Normally, a conviction for first-degree murder carries sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Those convicted of more than one killing still face only the single 25-year period of ineligibility for parole.

The new legislation would allow -- but not require -- judges to impose consecutive terms of parole ineligibility, meaning a killer might have to serve 50, even 75 years without chance of parole.

But the legislation will leave this sentence to the judges.

"It's the judge that will make the decision. ... He or she will be required to consider this," the minister told a news conference.

"We're giving the judges discretion to see if the case is an appropriate one for an individual to receive consecutive parole ineligibility if they've been convicted or more than one murder."

He suggested that leaving it discretionary, rather than mandatory, will make it proof against Charter of Rights challenges.

"Sometimes when we introduce legislation, we have to be very careful about charter challenges and to make sure it complies and again, when we had a look at the whole issue, we believed this was a reasonable response to this question and again, it will be up to the judges."

This is the latest in a series of tough-on-crime measures brought in by the Tories this fall, including tougher sentences for white-collar crime and an end to two-for-one credit for pre-trial jail time.

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  • At Thu Oct 29, 06:36:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The only bad thing about this is that it should have been extended to provide true life sentences for anyone who murders a child (note I said murder, not manslaughter).

  • At Thu Oct 29, 08:00:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm glad to see that you are in favour of giving judges discretion. I think we (us, citizens, denizens, everyone) make judgments about court cases based on a fraction of the relevant information (and generous helping of irrelevant information). We watch some TV, read a newspaper article or two, without realizing (caring?) that in order to come to a verdict, there was a court procedure involving two sides, using the same information, trying to convince some regular-every-day-citizens of someone's guilt or innocence; then those citizens have to spend some time discussing the matter and coming to some sort of consensus... (Please tell me that the whole process isn't a complete waste of time and money...)

    And we have to keep in mind unintended (but perhaps generally predictable) consequences of mandatory sentences. I recall some recent controversy over young girls "sexting" pictures of themselves to others, and then potentially facing strict child pornography charges. The law designed to protect them in that case does the opposite. (I hope that claim is relatively uncontroversial. But perhaps it isn't. Also, I admit that I have participated in what I accused others of doing: judging court cases without the relevant information. Though I did say everyone, including me, is prone to this. I just don't think we should base policy decisions on that basis).

    As for being tough on criminals, I'm in favour of that. At least certain criminals. I think that a lot of "crimes" (e.g., certain forms of drug possession) should not be considered crimes in the first place, and that criminalization causes more harm that good.

    But I think that the Tory policies are better termed "tough on criminals" than "tough on crime". Did you see this article from the Globe and Mail that talked about "prison policy"?:

    I was particularly struck by the passage that quotes Ian Brodie:

    "And Ian Brodie, Harper's former chief of staff, told a McGill University symposium last March that criticism of the tough-on-crime policy by sociologists, lawyers and criminologists actually bolsters the Conservative case — because they are held in lower regard than politicians.

    "“Politically it helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition,” Mr. Brodie said. “So we never really had to engage in the question of what the evidence actually shows about various approaches to crime.”"

    How would you respond to someone who argued that the policies the Tories (on balance) do more to increase the crime rate?

    As proof, I would try to find a BBC documentary I listened to recently about how greater social equality (not aggregate wealth) did more to decrease crime and increase overall well-being (at least in developed countries)... But I don't have time at the moment. So for now I'll stick with the Globe and Mail article and quote one more line:

    "Over the last three decades the per capita rate of U.S. prison incarceration has skyrocketed compared with Canada, they noted, yet the two countries' crime rates have risen and fallen together."


  • At Thu Oct 29, 09:21:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is much-improved legislation for criminal sentencing articulated by my MP and our Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson. Certainly the current government is showing an integrity of representing and safeguarding their constituents. There have been too many cases of easy parole and time not suiting the crime. With these measures, some rights of the criminal are being modified, but they are rights effectively forfeited the instant a crime is transacted. For a life sentence to be "life", this is about the best you can get.

  • At Thu Oct 29, 09:31:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Mr. Lorne said…

    Some liberal politician will be upset by this and somehow stall the legislation...I can feel it in me bones.

  • At Fri Oct 30, 12:40:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Justice exists in the minds of fine men and women and must be given the tools to affect the lives of everyone else. (real conservative)

  • At Fri Oct 30, 01:31:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Guelph First said…

    To me the charge of attempted murder should not even exist. Just because you didn’t succeed in what you wanted to do should not entitle you to a lesser sentence. If the Doctors and nurses saved your victims life, why should you be given a lesser charge??
    Same holds true for attempted rape, or attempted back robbery, just because you were not successful is of no consequence to me.

  • At Fri Oct 30, 04:03:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Guelph First:
    Surely there can be important distinctions between different types of homicide or attempted homicide.

    Either way, take heart. Section 239 of the Canadian Criminal code does say that "every person who attempts by any means to commit murder is guilty of an indictable offense and is "liable to imprisonment for life."*

    Though I believe Judicial discretion comes into play in both murder and attempted murder...



  • At Mon Nov 02, 04:15:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Brian in Calgary said…

    The trouble with concurrent sentences is that every murder after the first one is "FREE." This kind of reform is an idea whose time has long since come. Perhaps the government should make this reform a confidence matter.


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