Criminal Justice IV


In our never ending discussion about the criminal justice system here in Canada, let’s take a look at some of the more bizarre aspects of how justice is meted out.

Under the headline of gun control, let’s look at Mike Hargreaves’ story. His Toronto apartment has been splashed onto the headlines – his mega-heavy, 770-kilo concrete-and-steel safe having been relieved of 35 high-power weapons, including a Glock handgun. He finds himself being charged with the unsafe storage of his legally registered weapons. Never mind that it took thieves two days of heavy slogging with blow torches and sledgehammers to breach a vault that surpassed absolutely all requirements. Never mind that under federal law, all that is required is that the handgun be unloaded and inoperable – either through a trigger or cable lock – and then locked in “a sturdy, secure container or room that cannot easily be broken open or into.” Never mind that basically, the barest of minimums required, is a locked metal briefcase enough to legally pass as a “sturdy, secure container.” This man went far and away beyond what is required and now finds himself charged because of our asinine gun registry and its related laws.

What about a 21-year-old man charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder and wanted by police for over a year, being let out on bail? What about a teenager implicated in the daylight shooting of a 17-year-old behind a Scarborough high school earlier this month being freed on bail the same day? Why is it that a man charged with bilking the Salvation Army out of $2.5 million gets bail of $250,000, while two young men who allegedly killed a cabbie while driving in excess of the posted limits through city streets get bail of only $50,000 each? It has been widely reported that both young men had no previous records and from what is known about the alleged scam artist, neither did he. So where is the justice in the setting of bail amounts?

But let’s hear from the Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½victims’. A man accused of killing a police officer last December complained about his detention during a brief court appearance. Francois Pepin, 40, complained that his jail conditions at a detention center in were “unlivable.” “Since Saturday I have been kept in a small cell, isolated, for no reason,” He also complained about a fellow inmate who snored, saying it prevented him from sleeping. Poor baby.

Apparently it pays to know people in high places. Matt Brownlee, a 33-year-old habitual drunk driver has already sent a young mother and her son to their graves, and despite having a lifetime ban on his licence, was found “not criminally responsible” for another litany of deja vu charges – driving while impaired, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failure to comply with probation conditions, and driving while disqualified, by Mr. Justice Bruce McPhee. Brownlee, while racing his drunken buddy, Seth Shuster, slammed into the car of Linda LeBreton-Holmes and her 12- year-old son, Brian. Linda LeBreton-Holmes, was the daughter of Marjory LeBreton, one of former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s closest aides, and now a senator. There was another woman who worked closely with Mila Mulroney, the prime minister’ wife. Her name is Bonnie Brownlee. Bonnie Brownlee’s brother is Bill Brownlee, no stranger himself to impaired driving charges. And his son, of course, is Matt Brownlee, and therefore Bonnie Brownlee’s nephew. Matt Brownlee may have gotten seven years in prison for his two counts of criminal negligence causing death but it was not as if any lesson was learned – not with eight breaches of probation already under his belt before his death spin.

After reading this short blurb, and considering that PM Harper wants to crack down on criminals, we have to wonder at the musings of Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in B.C. who said, “Sentences are already pretty tough for serious crime. It’s one of the few areas of public policy where science consistently . . . has taken a back seat to just blind faith and politics.”
Sorry, the liberal hug-a-thug, take a time out theory doesn’t work for me. More power to Mr. Harper in his endeavours to make criminals pay. And if it does cost us some money to build new prisons, so be it. It would be money well spent.

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