Pubdate: Wed, 04 Feb 2009
Source: Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2009 Lake of Two Mountains Gazette Ltd.


We're saved the cost of a trial, but last week's decision by the
16-year-old Westwood gangsta to cut a deal with prosecutors leaves
society the loser.

Under the federal Criminal Code and Quebec's Bill 9, bringing a loaded
restricted weapon to a school and pointing it at people carries a
mandatory minimum of one year per count. You can forget that because
he has no prior convictions, he's under 18 and nobody's asking that he
be tried as an adult.

Same with the other charges. Drug pusher? Under 18. Armed robber?
Under 18.

The defence will argue for rehabilitation. A wonderful concept, except
that what's the reality? Overworked caseworkers, especially on the
English side. Should he be released into the care and supervision of
his family? His own defence lawyer was suggesting this strutting bully
be placed under the supervision of his 79-year-old grandmother. Please.

The sad truth of it is that the system lacks ways of dealing with this
young man. Our judicial system treats him as a child, but on the
street, he's already a soldier in the drug trade who has shown himself
capable of more vicious assignments - and he's still two years shy of
adult prison.

The Harper Conservatives had wanted to close this loophole. Federal
opposition parties, aided and abetted by the Quebec Liberals, vilified
the Tory initiative as a callous policy shift that would jail children.

We'll never know whether this kid goes straight or turns ever worse,
because the hierarchy of rights contained in the federal and
provincial charters of rights ensure his take precedence. Society's
interests don't even figure in that hierarchy. What a perfect way to
cover incompetence and insulate failure from accountability.
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