HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Get Tough On Drugs, Cops Urge
Pubdate: Wed, 24 Nov 2004
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Chuck Poulsen, The Daily Courier
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


Kelowna RCMP want tougher sentences for drug traffickers, and they're 
thinking of asking for volunteers to track the kind of punishment - or lack 
of it - judges are handing out

Supt. Bill McKinnon said the detachment is thinking of setting up a "court 
watch program" that would see volunteers keeping an eye on sentences and 
providing that data to the media

"There needs to be a change in the mindset of judges," said McKinnon. 
"Politicians don't control judges, the police don't control judges. There 
needs to be a public outcry over what is acceptable

"When we arrest a trafficker and seize kilos of cocaine, we would like to 
see prison time (over two years)," said McKinnon. "That doesn't happen very 
often." He said that in 2001, 16 juveniles convicted of trafficking were 
sentenced to "secured custody" for an average of only five days. Of adults, 
39 per cent convicted of trafficking received no jail terms. For those who 
did go to jail, 56 per cent got less than three months

The court watch program is in place in Powell River, where results of the 
cases are posted on the website The detachment adopted 
the program because of a large number of break-ins that had residents 
confused and upset

"The results have been excellent," said Const. Carl McIntosh of the Powell 
River detachment. "The criminal element doesn't want to be known, but now 
they have to face the community

"Sometimes scrutiny is an effective crime-prevention tool." McIntosh said 
he didn't think any of the judges had a problem with also being placed 
under scrutiny. "One of the judges told a court watch person that if people 
wanted more criminals in jail, they need to build him more jails," said 
McIntosh. "It's not necessarily just a problem of soft sentences from 
judges." The Four Pillars Coalition recommended stiffer sentences in its 
report to Kelowna city council Monday. The coalition also suggested that 
people under the influence of drugs be detained for up to 72 hours. Current 
legislation allows for a maximum detention of 24 hours without a charge, 
but that often isn't enough time for someone on crystal meth to sober up

"Some of them are still zonked after 24 hours," said McKinnon

But as with the Powell River experience, McKinnon said the detachment would 
likely need more cells to implement a program of so-called preventive detention

"Overcrowding is another issue," said McKinnon. "We keep getting weekenders 
in the cells. I'm in discussion with court services to see if some other 
method can be used, such as home arrest bracelets." He said there are 10-20 
drugged people locked up on an average night. The jail can house 50.
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