Tag Archive for omnibus crime legislation

Crumbs For The Future – Murder Victim’s Mother Speaks Out Against Mandatory Sentencing

Canada“How can we afford to focus so many resources on locking up the past so there are only crumbs left for the future.”These words come from the mother of Canadian murder victim Candace Derksen.

The occassion was her recent testimony (via videoconference from Winnipeg) at the Canadian House of Commons justice committee. The same committee which is studying their government’s new omnibus crime legislation.

Wilma Derksen’s daughter was murdered 27 years ago at the age of 13. Mark Grant was arrested for the crime much, much later in 2007. After his conviction last February he has a long wait for parole, as he is not even eligible for it until 2036.

Mia Rabson of the Winnipeg Free Press brings us additional details:

‘The sentencing of the man who murdered our daughter did not satisfy our need for justice,’ [Derksen] said.

She said in fact it will cost a lot of money to keep Grant in prison.

She fears the new bill will put more of the limited government dollars available into incarceration and not into the education system and social programs to help raise kids who are healthy and good members of society.

Derksen is not the only one coming out in opposition to the Omnibus Crime Bill, a  recently introduced piece of Tory legislation. It is a Frankenstein monster cobbled together from nine prior bills, all of which the Canadian Parliament refused to pass. Along with amendments to parts of the penal code, mostly geared towards mandatory sentencing, it will also make changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  Among other things those changes include making it easier to prosecute juvenile repeat offender as adults.

One big sticking point with the incarceration mentality is the sheer cost involved. It is that financial bottom line which is finally motivating some Canadian politicians where statistics have failed. The Winnipeg Sun reports  that provincial Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier  has estimated the cost to Quebec alone would be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Quebec, he argued, doesn’t have the means to pay for it.

‘This bill does not offer the financial support for these changes,’ he said.

‘Quebec refuses to absorb these costs.’

It is to be hoped that the hasty attempts to push the bill through are slowed enough for real debate and a survey of the facts. Even here in the U.S. where prisons are big business, the states are drifting away from the broken and primitive incarceration mentality.

Image Source: alexindigo, used under its Creative Commons license