Editor, The News:
Anyone considering a vote for the Conservatives based on their ‘tough on crime’ position may first want to consider the following:
• Under the Canadian system of criminal justice that until March 23 included the faint hope clause for early parole eligibility, first-degree murderers served an average of 28.4 years in prison before receiving parole, according to a 2005 Department of Justice report.
• In the U.S., sentences for life with parole result in average prison terms of 18.4 years.
• In U.S. states that sentence for life without parole, the average life sentence served is 29 years.
This should cast a new light on the purported softness of our justice system and the now-banished faint hope clause that permitted a jury of ordinary, informed Canadians, selected from the region in which the crime occurred, to participate in the decision about whether or not an offender was ready to re-integrate into the community.
At a time when Canadians are seeking a stronger voice in the justice system, an opportunity for direct participation by community members in the administration of justice within their own neighbourhoods has been extinguished – in the name of reducing “lenient treatment for murderers”.