Many people would agree with Allen Segstro from Radium who astutely said that Canada has a legal system that should not be misconstrued as a justice system. Others like to call it the “injustice” system for how it has been twisted around so obscenely in favour of the rights of the accused over the victim’s.

Many long for the return of a system that puts the victim first, instead of focusing all of the court’s time on whether the perpetrator’s rights have been accommodated or violated. The victim? Oh yes, they’re over there huddled in the corner waiting for justice to be served in between plea bargains, bail hearings, and pre-sentence reports. 

Reading the history of crime and punishment is a real eye-opener. In the Middles Ages, consequences for crimes were linked to religion since it was often considered “God’s work” to punish the evil that men (and women) do. This punishment was decided by ridiculous “ordeals” and “trials” where suspects had to partake in brutal physical challenges to reveal their guilt or innocence.

In those days fair trials didn’t exist; if you were suspected of committing a crime, you were guilty and punishment was swift. Fortunately, we are not under that archaic (and scary) system anymore, but the legal pendulum has swung to the extreme left and now we are faced with a system with very little accountability and deterrence. Bail and probation for serious offences are the norm today, and like conservation efforts, it’s a “catch-and-release” society.

A couple of disturbing incidents recently cast a shadow over our legal system. A repeat sexual offender of children was taking riding lessons at an equestrian facility in BC where he allegedly victimized an 11-year-old girl. How was that allowed to happen?

In another case, a sexual predator was released into a community without the general public knowing about it; only a small number of people were informed. Where’s the justice in that? 

Enhanced credit for time served, house arrest, breach of probation, granted bail, plea to a lesser charge, “my client’s privacy rights were infringed, your honour” . . . the list goes on and on. 

Many argue that jail is not the answer, that we must try to rehabilitate. While this belief is certainly valid, we must bring back what the legal system has lost in its blind pursuit of justice, and that’s deterrence and respect for the law. 

Some people turn to crime because making an honest living is just too much work for them; it barely pays the bills. Society is partly to blame for that. Look how difficult it is to survive these days, thanks to rising costs, taxes, rent, and everything else. We’re seeing more poverty, homelessness, and social ills exacerbated by mental health problems, and while services are available to help, they can’t keep up. 

Something needs to change because this is a critical time for everyone. Write your MP, the Department of Justice, and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.                      

Lyonel Doherty, editor