Andrew Coyne: No need for Tories’ ‘Throw Away the Key Act’


mentalfloss
-1
#1
Harper using empty rhetoric for political gain?




Andrew Coyne: No need for Tories’ ‘Throw Away the Key Act’

On past form, the Conservatives’ latest piece of tough-on-crime legislation will come with some sort of folksy name attached, of a kind suitable for use in Tory ad campaigns. The Life Means Life Act, perhaps? The Throw Away the Key Act? The Hanging’s Too Good For Them (And What If It Wasn’t) Act?

The legislation, to be introduced in Parliament next week — Wednesday’s announcement, as usual, took place hundreds of miles away — would raise the maximum penalty in Canadian law from the current 25 years without eligibility for parole to a sentence that is often referred to as “life” but is in fact rather closer to “death.”

Prisoners convicted of particularly “heinous” crimes — for example, murders involving sexual assault, or kidnapping, or the killing of police officers or prison guards, or terrorism (high treason is also on the list) — would be obliged to serve, as a government background document put it, “the rest of their natural lives” in prison, with no possibility of parole, ever. They would be kept locked up until their bodies were actually discovered in their cells.

There would be one, grudging exception. After 35 years, prisoners could apply, not for parole, but for “exceptional release,” and not to some do-gooding parole board, but directly to the Minister of Public Safety. This is intended to allay, as the background paper puts it, “legitimate constitutional concerns,” what might be called the Keeping The Supreme Court Off Our Backs provision. So life would not quite mean life. It would mean life or the readiness of an elected politician to personally authorize the release of one of Canada’s “most heinous criminals.”


If there were any likelihood of that you may be sure the Conservatives would not have included it in the legislation. Indeed, one imagines party strategists rubbing their hands in anticipation of the fate that awaits the politician that opposes it. If the experience of the Anti-Terrorism Act is any guide, the Liberals will announce they will vote for it but change it after they have been elected, while the NDP, though voting against it, will promise to amend rather than repeal it.

According to the government, the measure is needed “to keep Canadian families and their communities safe” from “heinous” (that word again: has it ever been used except in front of “crimes” or “criminals”?) criminals, those “whose actions mean we cannot risk permitting them on the streets.” The suggestion is that Canada’s streets are menaced by a wave of elderly jailbirds, released on parole after a scant 25 years in the slammer.

This is — does it even need saying? — nonsense. Not every prisoner is paroled after 25 years: only those judged at low risk of re-offending. Those designated as “dangerous offenders” can already be kept locked up for life. Parole, further, does not mean prisoners are simply set loose in the community, or released unconditionally: rather they remain, as a backgrounder by the Parole Board of Canada explains, “subject to the conditions of parole and the supervision of a … parole officer.” For how long? “For the rest of their lives.”

What sort of risk do they represent? According to figures from Correctional Service Canada, of 658 “murder offenders” released on parole between January 1975 and March 1990, just five — an average of one every three years — were convicted of a second murder. None of the five had originally been convicted of what was then called capital murder, the equivalent of the Harper government’s “heinous” crimes.

It is difficult, indeed, to see what is accomplished by extending their sentences from 25 years to life, or death, or infinity, or whatever the next Tory bill calls it. Beyond simple incapacitation — removing the offender from the community — punishment is generally considered to have three potential purposes: deterrence, rehabilitation and retribution. But if 25 years is not enough to deter someone from committing a “heinous” murder, it’s hard to see why 35 years would, and in any case the average murderer doesn’t think he’s going to get caught — to the extent he even thinks that far ahead.

Rehabilitation, obviously, is no part of the Tory plan. Which is problematic if, say, you are a prison guard in a maximum security pen. Whatever protection they may be afforded by inclusion among the select list of potential victims of Murder Most Heinous, they will henceforth have to deal with prisoners who, with no chance of parole ever, have no real incentive for good behaviour — or if you like, no penalty for bad behaviour. (“What are you going to do? Lock me up for the rest of my life, again?”) So maybe call it the Kill A Screw For Free Act.

That leaves yes, retribution. Without a doubt — which is to say, I sincerely hope — the prisoners this law is aimed at will be limited to those guilty of the most horrible crimes, the worst we can imagine. But no amount of punishment will bring their victims back to life — nor can it even provide a satisfactory measure of retribution.

This was true even in the days of the death penalty. Those inclined to cry “an eye for an eye” never really meant it: if they did, they wouldn’t have just demanded the prisoner be put to death. Rather, they’d insist he be subject to exactly the same excruciating fate as his victim, to be raped, or tortured, or what not for hours on end, at public expense.

But there are things a civilized society doesn’t do, and locking up people forever, regardless of any risk they represent, surely counts as one of them.

Andrew Coyne: No need for Tories’ ‘Throw Away the Key Act’
 
Most helpful post: The members here have rated this post as best reply.
petros
+5
#2  Top Rated Post
Why the f-ck should victims have to keep reliving their horrors at parole reviews to keep as$holes in jail.


Whomever wrote this is an idiot as is the person who posted it.
 
Cliffy
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Whomever wrote this is an idiot as is the person who posted it.

Ah, looking in the mirror at your butt trying to find that burr this morning, eh.
 
Cannuck
#4
Quote:

It is difficult, indeed, to see what is accomplished by extending their sentences from 25 years to life, or death, or infinity, or whatever the next Tory bill calls it.

That's easy. It eases people's unreasonable fears. It gives the impression that the government is doing "something" and it wastes taxpayers money. These are three things that the Conservatives are very good at and what their supporters expect from them.
 
petros
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Cliffy View Post

Ah, looking in the mirror at your butt trying to find that burr this morning, eh.

Have you been up all night getting high and watching conspiracy videos on YouTube?
 
mentalfloss
-1
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Why the f-ck should victims have to keep reliving their horrors at parole reviews to keep as$holes in jail.

Whomever wrote this is an idiot as is the person who posted it.


 
DaSleeper
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Have you been up all night getting high and watching conspiracy videos on YouTube?

He looks in the mirror and sees your butt?
Did megahurts hack his account?
 
waldo
-1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Harper using empty rhetoric for political gain?




There would be one, grudging exception. After 35 years, prisoners could apply, not for parole, but for “exceptional release,” and not to some do-gooding parole board, but directly to the Minister of Public Safety. This is intended to allay, as the background paper puts it, “legitimate constitutional concerns,” what might be called the Keeping The Supreme Court Off Our Backs provision. So life would not quite mean life. It would mean life or the readiness of an elected politician to personally authorize the release of one of Canada’s “most heinous criminals.”

CBC coverage includes the following related quote from Harper... Parole Board? What Parole Board? The "federal cabinet' will decide! Oh my...
Harper said the proposed law would only apply to "a relatively small number of offenders," and a government spokeswoman was unable to provide any examples where the legislation would have applied.

Harper said those convicted of the crimes listed in the legislation could voluntarily petition the public safety minister for release after serving no less than 35 years.

"Decisions will not rest with an appointed board, but with the federal cabinet," he said
 
Colpy
+3
#9
They lose me at the word MANDATORY.

Mandatory sentencing is a travesty. It completely destroys a very necessary flexibility in the system, and twists it ever more from a system of justice to a system of laws.

Other than that, I would have no problem with the law.
 
waldo
+2 / -1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Colpy View Post

Other than that, I would have no problem with the law.

and when you and your freedom luvin' militiamen get tagged as terrorists? Life will mean life... just sayin, Colpy... just sayin!
 
petros
+1
#11
It eliminates victims having fight to keep as$holes behind bars.
 
captain morgan
+1
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Harper using empty rhetoric for political gain?




You were saying?

 
skookumchuck
+2
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by waldo View Post

CBC coverage includes the following related quote from Harper... Parole Board? What Parole Board? The "federal cabinet' will decide! Oh my...

Harper said the proposed law would only apply to "a relatively small number of offenders," and a government spokeswoman was unable to provide any examples where the legislation would have applied.

Harper said those convicted of the crimes listed in the legislation could voluntarily petition the public safety minister for release after serving no less than 35 years.

"Decisions will not rest with an appointed board, but with the federal cabinet," he said

I would prefer an elected to an appointed board. If a member of your family or flossies were murdered you both would be singing a different song.
 
Cannuck
+2
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

It eliminates victims having fight to keep as$holes behind bars.

Emotions shouldn't run our criminal justice system. That would be silly. You're not a particularly analytical guy so I can understand how you would disagree.
 
captain morgan
+2
#15
Nothing close to emotions in what Petros stated.

Perhaps you're getting a little worked-up on this?
 
Cannuck
+2
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Nothing close to emotions in what Petros stated.

Of course there is. Stop being so silly.
 
waldo
-2
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by skookumchuck View Post

I would prefer an elected to an appointed board. If a member of your family or flossies were murdered you both would be singing a different song.

cabinet members are appointed... as elected MPs (and past/probable cabinet members) do you foresee this newly envisioned decision making as being a part of a respective MPs campaign platform?

of course Parole Board members, as appointed, meet a defined criteria... and they specialize in dealing with and working in the justice system - that's their job; one that allows them to draw upon subject matter experts in determining risk influences. Oh wait, I get it... cabinet members won't have any need for this type of silly assessment purview with "throw away the key legislation"!
 
captain morgan
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

Of course there is. Stop being so silly.

Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit, eh?
 
Cannuck
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit, eh?

Stop being so silly. You're embarrassing yourself again.
 
captain morgan
#20
No argument then... I'm not surprised, it's your standard MO
 
Cannuck
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

No argument then...

Argument about what? You haven't actually said anything that was worth refuting. I'm sure you may actually believe that victim impact statements have some value other than whining but as I've said, you're very silly. Anytime you choose to stop being silly, let me know and I can "argue" all you want.
 
captain morgan
#22
Correction... You can't refute anything that is ever posted
 
mentalfloss
+1 / -1
#23
No, there's definitely no emotion there lol

One Harper political strategy is at least clear now.


Take a policy issue that on the face of it sounds well intentioned, but has very minimal impact except to appease an uninformed mass of people who believe the nature and scope of that policy measure is broad and widespread.

Terrorism and Ebola are good examples.

Conversely on matters of bad news that actually do have a significance, we need downplay or deflect.

Like that whole oil thing that he frames as having a minimal impact.
Last edited by mentalfloss; Mar 5th, 2015 at 12:43 PM..
 
JLM
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

Emotions shouldn't run our criminal justice system. That would be silly. You're not a particularly analytical guy so I can understand how you would disagree.

So are you saying that relatives and friends of Clifford Olson's or Willy Pickton's victims should have no consideration by the Justice System?
 
Cannuck
+1
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by JLM View Post

So are you saying that relatives and friends of Clifford Olson's or Willy Pickton's victims should have no consideration by the Justice System?

That's exactly what I'm saying.

Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Correction... You can't refute anything that is ever posted

Of course I can. Stop being so silly!
 
petros
+1
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

No, there's definitely no emotion there lol

One Harper political strategy is at least clear now.


Take a policy issue that on the face of it sounds well intentioned, but has very minimal impact except to appease an uninformed mass of people who believe the nature and scope of that policy measure is broad and widespread.

Terrorism and Ebola are good examples.

Conversely on matters of bad news that actually do have a significance, we need downplay or deflect.

Like that whole oil thing that he frames as having a minimal impact.

Holy f-ck man. You're becoming a bigger idiot every minute.

The idiot version of The Quickeing.
 
Cannuck
+2
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Holy f-ck man. You're becoming a bigger idiot every minute.

He might catch up to you someday
 
captain morgan
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

Of course I can. Stop being so silly!

I suppose that I'll believe you once you actually perform on the rebuttal front
 
petros
+3
#29
Cannuck

You'll forever be deified as Lord God and Ruler of Idiot Space Time and Dimension.
 
skookumchuck
+1
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

No, there's definitely no emotion there lol

One Harper political strategy is at least clear now.


Take a policy issue that on the face of it sounds well intentioned, but has very minimal impact except to appease an uninformed mass of people who believe the nature and scope of that policy measure is broad and widespread.

Terrorism and Ebola are good examples.

Conversely on matters of bad news that actually do have a significance, we need downplay or deflect.

Like that whole oil thing that he frames as having a minimal impact.

So instead of whining about the cons perhaps you could inform us about how perfect the libs were? Seems a lot of Canadians disagreed with you, or are you one of those persons who insists that it was a minority that elected the cons?