Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Impact statement brings Crown attorney to tears

WINNIPEG — A Crown attorney wiped away tears Monday while reading a victim impact statement on behalf of a woman who was brutally raped by her ex-boyfriend.
The 46-year-old Beausejour man pleaded guilty to several charges as part of a plea-bargain that will see him receive three years in prison in addition to 18 months of time already served. His name isn’t being published to protect the identity of the victim.
The woman – who wasn’t present in court for the sentencing hearing – described her physical and emotional injuries as a result of the September 2008 attack. Prosecutor Jocelyn Ritchot had to pause several times to collect herself as she read the woman’s emotional words aloud in court.
"I trusted you. Cared for you. Only wanted the best for you. Why, why, why?" she said. "Emotionally I felt dirty, used, guilty that somehow I allowed it to happen, and very degraded. I feel like my soul has been robbed."
The accused began dating the victim after they met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 2007, court was told. The ended their romance in July 2008 but continued to be friends. However, everything changed that fall when the man fell off the wagon and began drinking heavily. The woman went to his house one day, concerned for his well-being, and was viciously attacked.
"I wanted to help him. I felt sorry for him. Then it became a nightmare," she wrote.
The man put duct tape over her face, bound her hands and legs together and then sodomized her. He also demanded she call her 18-year-old daughter to come over so he could rape her as well in front of her mother. She was repeatedly beaten when she refused and threatened with a lead pipe.
"No mother should ever be put in that position," Ritchot told court. "He had no regard for the feelings or personal integrity of the victim."
The man eventually untied his victim and allowed her to escape the house.
"I no longer had any personal control. I was at his mercy. I looked into his eyes and could see nothing," she wrote in her victim impact statement. The woman said she resumed drinking following the attack and had to quit her job.
The accused has a previous criminal history, including a similar sexually-motivated attack on his former wife in 2004. He also met her at an AA meeting, court was told.
Defence lawyer Manny Bagoo said his client regrets his actions, which he blames on his longstanding alcohol issues. The man has spent the past 18 months in custody, which will be given double-time credit of three years. Crown and defence lawyers have made a joint-recommendation for him to spend another three years behind bars.

This article tends to portray a negative image of the offender by using words such as "brutal rape" and "attacked viciously." However, this may not be entirely true. This man had alcohol addictions, which is not an excuse (as many believe), but a serious problem which needs to addressed and he may not be a "bad" person. This article did not spend enough time talking about his issues, how long he has been an addict, the steps he has attempted to eliminate his addiction, and whether the other sexual attack was motivated by addictions. The words brutal and vicious, are one person's opinion.

There is also not enough information about the offender such as if he was living in poverty, had been abused, neglected, etc. All of these things are significant and are mitigating factors. The question of why, was not answered. The article did not provide any possible explanations as to why the man may have did this. It also did not explore possible events leading up to the attack, that may have had an influence.

Victim's story triggers tears 
A victim impact statement so powerful that the Crown prosecutor cried repeatedly while reading it into the record was heard at a sentencing hearing Monday for a Beausejour man who brutally raped his ex-girlfriend.
Court heard that in September 2008, the man raped his former live-in girlfriend twice in eight days. The second assault occurred after he'd duct taped the woman's mouth shut and her wrists together and threatened to beat both her and his own mother with a lead pipe if she said anything.
The woman was not present in court Monday, but her victim impact statement was read aloud by Crown attorney Jocelyne Ritchot, who cried as she read the statement.
In it, the woman described having to quit her job and returning to drinking as a result of the attack.
"Emotionally I felt dirty, used, guilty that somehow I allowed it to happen, and very degraded," the woman wrote. "I feel like my soul has been robbed."
The Crown and defence have jointly recommended the man, who pleaded guilty to his crimes Monday, be sentenced to six years in prison.

This article gives absolutely no background on the offender's life, does not even mention his alcohol addictions, other possible mitigating factors, or factors which may have influenced this attack. It gives a disproportionate amount of space to the victim and almost none to the offender, his background life/circumstances/hardships and possible explanations for this attack, which is extremely biased. 

My Opinion??
Many of the public will say that alcohol addictions are an excuse but I disagree. Addictions are a serious problem which need to be addressed. If we just put people with addictions in prison and then they are released with no help, they may come out more dangerous. Is this in the best interests of society?  Prison is a lazy response to dodge the issues of addictions.

From the sounds of it, this man had attempted AA a couple of times. Maybe more intensive treatment is needed. It is clear that if he went to AA, he acknowledged his problem and wanted help. If he wants help, he should be given help, not prison. 

I think that this man should have gotten 1.5 years in prison (to express denunciation) and then 3 years probation, in which he could receive treatment and counseling for his addictions, job training, etc.

Putting addicts in prison is only going to make it worse. Prison has damaging effects on people and addicts will find ways to get alcohol and drugs. Ways that could be more dangerous to their health and well being as well.  

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