Pubdate: Wed, 10 May 2006
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Kingsley Beattie
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Re: Courts need conditional sentencing, May 8.

I have had many direct dealings with inmates in my career working as 
an immigration officer who had to visit jails, prisons and 
penitentiaries, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Windsor to 

I agree with letter-writer Emile Therien of the Canada Safety Council 
that imprisonment does little to assure rehabilitation. It has been 
my experience that the very best "rehabilitator" is old age.

One should be aware that there is an enormous difference between 
violent and non-violent prisoners. There are barbarians in our 
society who view people as things to be used, or disposed of, at 
their own convenience. They will, as long as they are alive, be a 
threat to the rest of us. They should, one way or the other, be 
removed from our society.

On the other hand there have been some very honourable people in our 
prisons whose incarceration serves no useful purpose.

An example would be the Prairies wheat farmers who went to jail 
rather than pay fines for selling their produce across the U.S. 
border in defiance of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly. They were 
following the protest of Manitoba farmer Andy McMechan, who spent 155 
days in prison for crossing the U.S. border to sell his wheat and barley.

Most of the inmates fall between the extremes. These are the inmates 
who should be considered for some form of conditional sentencing, so 
long as their offence did not involve assault on a person.

Mandatory minimums simply cannot address the infinite variations that 
surround human activity. I would rather put my trust in a fallible 
judge than in "blind" law.

Kingsley Beattie,

- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman