Federal government urged to rein in mandatory minimum sentences

July 11, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star article: Justice Delayed: Part 3 of 3: 

When the federal government announced its reforms to the justice system in March, there was one very notable omission that had defence lawyers fuming:

There was no indication in Bill C-75of what the Liberals planned to do about mandatory minimum sentences.

Those three words -- much maligned or much appreciated in the justice system, depending on who you talk to -- have long been at the centre of a debate as to whether most of them are actually useful in denouncing criminals and deterring future offenders.

One thing many legal experts seem to agree on, though, is that mandatory minimum sentences contribute to delay in the criminal justice system. For example, lawyers point out there's little to no incentive for an individual to plead guilty if they are still going to get the same sentence they would receive if they went to trial and were found guilty.

"If a mandatory sentence were removed from consideration, there is greater flexibility for resolving matters at an early stage in the proceedings. This would, in turn, free up more court time," concluded a 2017 study on court delays by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs.


The committee noted that in her November 2015 mandate letter from the prime minister, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was instructed to "conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade."

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