Mandatory Minimum Sentences/Parole

posted by Brian Judge on Jun 29, 2011 in Prison TV Blog | 0 comments
Mandatory Minimum Sentences/Parole

By Ricky Atkinson:  Everyone is talking about the proposed Conservative crime bill that will get passed this autumn. But there are always three sides to any issue: his side, her side and the truth.


Pamela Stephens speaks for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson: “We remain unwavering in our commitment to fighting crime and protecting Canadians so that our communities are safe places for people to live, raise their family and do business!” 


What sane, normal person wouldn’t want that to happen and why is that statement such a contentious issue in our country right now?  I have kids and grandchildren and I’m working hard, paying taxes; who doesn’t want safer communities?


Errol Mendes, professor of international law from Universityof Ottawa says this about the proposed crime bill: "The legislation is more based on punishment than prevention and that is dramatically new. It is one of the most punishment focused [agendas] in Canadian history”.


But Mr. Mr. Mendes, criminals expect to be punished if caught. Why keep warning us of past punishments and relating them to future punishments? 


I’ve been around long enough to know all about those “past punishments” and I’ll be around long after Stephen Harper has faded from the public while his anti-crime initiatives are still haunting Canadians.


When Canada still had the death penalty I walked around with a gun, completely aware that ‘hanging’ still existed. But never for a fleeting moment did I think I would ever have to face it.


Robbery carried a life sentence, yet I often robbed - never once thinking that I would ever receive a life sentence.


Breaking into a store carried a 14-year sentence but stores were broken into frequently.


Mandatory minimum sentences don't make society any safer. They simply give the police a tool to take someone out of the community for a protracted period of time. When I entered the adult prison system in 1972 the Trudeau government had implemented “mandatory parole” that took the ‘good time’ a prisoner earned while doing time and forced that prisoner to do that ‘good time’ while on parole.


Basically it was an attempt to appease the public by sounding harsh on crime and give the inmate some structure to aid in reintegration back to society. Prisoners hated this new system because they felt if they were deemed ‘good enough’ to get a break on their sentence, why should they have to do that earned remission time again, while out on mandatory parole?  


Having experienced mandatory parole repeatedly, I can tell you that I didn't like it, but I understand where the government was coming from. The idea is to help me reintegrate back to society but with a shorter leash and more controls over my freedom.


Like anyone facing a judge, I expect to be punished in a fair and civil manner.


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