Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jun 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Referenced: Regina v. Joseph Ryan Lloyd:


VANCOUVER LAWYERS RETURN to court today (June 5) in a case that could 
see the Conservative government's mandatory minimum sentences for 
drug offences eventually repealed.

Earlier this year, a B.C. provincial court judge ruled 
unconstitutional an automatic one-year prison term for a person 
repeatedly convicted of dealing narcotics. Judge Joseph Galati found 
that a mandatory minimum sentence violates section 12 of the Canadian 
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that every citizen has 
the right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawyers for the federal government appealed that decision, which 
concerns a 2012 amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. 
And so the case is entering the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In a telephone interview, Adrienne Smith, health and drug policy 
staff lawyer for Pivot Legal Society, said she is hopeful Galati's 
decision will be upheld.

"Mandatory minimum sentences are not good public policy for anyone," 
she told the Straight. "In our view they may amount to cruel and 
unusual punishment, particularly for offenders who are women, 
aboriginal, and people involved in the drug trade because of their addiction."

The case concerns Joseph Ryan Lloyd, a 25-year-old resident of 
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. According to court documents, Lloyd is 
a long-time drug user with 21 prior convictions. He was arrested in 
March 2013 and in September convicted on three counts of trafficking 
relatively small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

In a January 2014 ruling openly sympathetic to the defendant, Galati 
noted that Lloyd was a low-level dealer only selling drugs to support 
his own addictions. Galati stated he would therefore sentence the 
young man to 191 days in addition to time served, instead of the 
minimum of one-year.

Smith maintained that a drug offence related to addiction should be 
treated as a medical issue and dealt with by health-care workers, not 
a criminal matter where the individual in question is made the 
responsibility of a prison.
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