Stop or I will yell stop again

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sccTHUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – Editorial – “Stop or I will yell stop again”. It was a crime that upset many in Thunder Bay. On September 2, 2011, a young offender bumped into a senior citizen when stealing her purse. The victim of the crime ended up in hospital in serious condition. It wasn’t an attack on the lady, but rather that she fell when coming into contact with the robber. The young offender, who can not be named has been sentenced to two concurrent sentences of eighteen months of probation.

One of those sentences is for breach of probation. In otherwords, this young person had already committed several crimes, was serving probation for at least one of them. The ruling in the courts that puts this youth in probation for violating his probation shares a message with law-abiding people in our city that the courts seem to favour criminals over victims. The sad reality is that many young people are being failed by the system. So too are law-abiding citizens.

The idea of probation for repeated offenders and what has been seen as a continued lack of action by the courts has fueled the Conservative Government’s efforts to firm up the laws, and try to put more power in the lands of legislators and less in the hands of judges. In this case, it is more of a “Stop or I will yell stop again” scenario. If the youth was on probation, and breached it, is giving a sentence of more probation likely to solve the problem? Frankly, both sides are heading in the wrong directions. Putting young offenders into jail for long sentences simply makes for more hardened criminals. Inversely sending these “slap on the wrist” messages to criminals isn’t going to help either.

There are solutions, but they start with preventive measures begining in the neighbourhoods. First off, getting groups in our city the support needed for programs that engage young people and keep them from a life that includes criminal activity.

A great deal of that could be via programs dedicated to you, and greater sharing of program resources in Thunder Bay.

But one of the keys is gaining the support of residents. Sentencing by judges which is seen as weak in ineffective isn’t going to help that process at all.

In this case, the penalty sure doesn’t fit the crime.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

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