Fixing the System: Will the Government Follow Up on Its Promises?
Blog by Arun S. Maini
Back in the dark days of Stephen Harper’s “law and order” politics, the government introduced several laws designed to punish and label people who broke the law. It was a way to “name and shame” them as well as to kick them when they were down, because most criminal offenders, as they always have throughout history, suffer from:
- Mental health challenges;
When the Trudeau government came into power in 2015, they promised to review every criminal justice law passed by the Harper government, and to roll back or eliminate any that were unfair, unconstitutional, or simply cruel.
We are still waiting.
Finally, after two elections and six years in office, the Liberal government proposed legislation to address some of these inequities.
They included some of the following:
- Reducing the number of mandatory minimum sentences, which tie the hands of judges and prosecutors; lead to more trials, and to unnecessary jail sentences. Many of them have been found to be unconstitutional;
- Returning to the old waiting period before one can apply to for a pardon. The Harper government had doubled the waiting period to five years or ten years, depending on the offence. These measures make it more difficult for people who have paid their debt to society to return to productive lives in the community;
- Increasing access to rehabilitation programs; community services; better assessment tools, and employment opportunities to reduce recidivism;
- Reducing the use of segregation in prison, also known as solitary confinement.
Then the Liberals called an election, and all of these proposals died. All of these are worthwhile and overdue initiatives, inexpensive and easy to implement, which the government has talked about and failed to deliver on.
It is time for the Trudeau Liberals, after three elections, to put follow up on these promises. We don’t need “sunny ways”, we need fairer ones.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges and need the advice of an experienced and skilled lawyer to help you through the legal process, call The Defence Group for a free consultation at 877-295-2830.
Arun S. Maini is a criminal lawyer and former prosecutor with 25 years of experience