MADD Canada

MADD Canada

February 28, 2005 15:30 ET

Conditional Sentences for Violent Crimes ‘Are Not Appropriate'

MADD Canada asserts arguments about the misuse of conditional sentences for the violent crimes of impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor MISSISSAUGA--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 28, 2005) - MADD Canada is restating its arguments to the Federal Government for the elimination of conditional sentences for violent impaired driving crimes where a person has been killed or seriously injured. Currently, the Provincial Attorney Generals and the Federal Justice Minister are reviewing the use of conditional sentences for violent crimes - and MADD Canada urges action on this public policy issue.

The organization is renewing its statements on conditional sentencing in the wake of a recent commissioned study by the Canada Safety Council that concludes use of conditional sentencing for impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm 'is appropriate'

"There seems to be a consensus amongst our country's top law-makers that it is inappropriate to use conditional sentences for violent crimes," states Karen Dunham, MADD Canada's National President. "Recently, the provincial Attorney Generals were unanimous in asked the Federal Minister to limit the types of crimes with which judges can hand down a conditional sentence"

Mrs. Dunham explains: "All indicators are that the appropriate usage of conditional sentences for violent crimes needs to be clarified. In Canada's Criminal Code, one of the stated objectives of our law is the denunciation of unlawful conduct. The Canadian public has been telling politicians for years now that conditional sentencing for violent crimes violates their sense of fairness and justice. The Supreme Court has also commented on the inappropriateness of a conditional sentence for impaired driving causing death."

For these reasons and more, MADD Canada's CEO Andrew Murie questions the study and its conclusions. "Denunciation is a significant factor when considering sentencing and this is something that the Safety Council's study has under-emphasized to the point of devaluing it. One simply cannot consider sentencing issues without directly factoring denunciation into the equation - and this is what the study has done."

"On the other hand, MADD Canada believes there can be no better measure of whether conditional sentences appropriately express societal condemnation of violent impaired driving offenders who kill and injure than to reference the views of the public. So, we have expressed Canadians' viewpoint through our public awareness campaign and delivery of our petition. The resounding message from Canadians is that conditional sentences do not fit the crime."

In commenting further on the study, Mr. Murie says: "What the Safety Council calls a "ground-breaking" study is no more than a review of case law, a very limited reference to literature on general deterrence and, ultimately, the authors' subjective conclusions as to the appropriateness of conditional sentences. In fact, the study offers nothing new to the public debate on the misuse of conditional sentences except the subjective conclusions drawn by the Safety Council."

MADD Canada has maintained that sentences need to reflect the severity of the crime. Through its public awareness campaign it has been consistently stating that jail time is part of our correctional services in Canada and, especially with the worse types of crimes, where there has been a death or serious injury. The system today is tilted towards the concerns for the convicted and not enough is said about the public good and the value of a human life. And, in the case of the use of conditional sentences for violent impaired driving crimes, our system fails Canadians by devaluing the loss of a human life or a human's quality of life.

"As a voice for victims of impaired driving, conditional sentences are a travesty of justice," says Mrs. Dunham. "One of the sentencing objectives stated in the Criminal Code is 'reparation for the harm to the victims or community.' Canadians have been telling their politicians since the new conditional sentencing laws first took effect in 1996 that a conditional sentence for a person convicted of killing or seriously injuring another is not reflecting our society's values of life."

"Victims within our organization view conditional sentences as 'not enough' for the most serious of crimes, violent impaired driving crimes where a person has been killed or seriously injured," she states.

For more information on MADD Canada's campaign to eliminate conditional sentencing for violent impaired driving crimes, visit:
http://www.madd.ca/english/news/conditional_campaign_main.html

For further information:
Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's CEO 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224
Karen Dunham, MADD Canada's National President (506) 635-5800

IN: JUSTICE, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Andrew Murie or Karen Dunham, CEO / National President
    Primary Phone: 800-665-6233 ext. 224
    Secondary Phone: 506-635-5800
    E-mail: amurie@madd.ca