Guilty until proven innocent
Ex-con (1) and Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews has brought in a bill to establish a U.S. style three-strikes law in Canada that would see people convicted of a third violent or sexual criminal offense jailed indefinitely as "dangerous offenders." Now, you might be thinking "What's wrong with that? I don't want violent criminals or perverts roaming the streets!" but the catch is that the dangerous offender status is automatic unless the defendant can convince the judge they are not at risk to reoffend - in other words the onus of proof is on the accused, not the accuser.
This is so obivously a political ploy on the part of the Conservatives to show they are "tough on crime" that it is offensive that they would even suggest it. Regular reader already know how this kind of stupid grandstanding pisses me off . How dumb do they think the average Canadian is? Do they really think that someone who gets in three bar brawls deserves to be automatically jailed for life?
Even defense lawyers, who stand to make a fortune from defending all the poor bastards who will suddenly be facing an automatic life sentence, oppose the idea, saying it is abitrary, will clog the courts and lead to shortage of available lawyers. And it won't do a damn thing to fight crime. It is also completely unnecessary since prosecutors can already apply to the judge in cases involving violent or sexual crimes to have defendants declared dangerous offenders, even on a first offense. Toews is saying that he doesn't trust our justice system or the judgement of crown attorneys and judicary.
The three strikes system in the U.S. has not cut the crime rate one iota, has filled prisons to beyond bursting and tied the hands of judges to make reasoned, thoughtful appropriate decisions on sentencing. It just doesn't work (2). But it gives Stephen Harper and Vic Toews the chance to pose with big, strong policemen for the cameras and gives the Conservatives a nice little hobby horse to ride in the next election when they need to distract people from their various screw-ups.
I can see the blogging tories and ex-reform party types foaming at the mouth at the first opposition to this clearly unconstitutional move: "What?!? You mean the Liberals are siding with child molesters and murderers? Clearly such evil liberals cannot be trusted!" (Clutch pearls) "Won't someone think of the children?"
I can see the Conservatives response when the law is struck down as unconstitutional too: "What?!? You mean the Supreme Court is siding with child molesters and murderers? Clearly such evil activist judges cannot be trusted! (clutch pearls/pound podium) "Won't someone think of the children?"
(see how thorough and serious I'm being? Aren't you impressed?)
1.On January 25, 2005, Toews pleaded guilty to the charge of exceeding personal campaign expense limits in the 1999 provincial election. Toews claimed that the overspending resulted from a miscommunication between his campaign and the provincial party as to how some expenses were accounted. There were some calls for him to resign as his party's justice critic, but nothing came of this. Toews received a $500 fine, and the charge remains on his record.
2. Take your pick
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Guilty until proven innocent