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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tough on crime agenda is going to backfire.

The Conservative government's planned series of reforms to the criminal justice system could cost tens of billions of dollars based on the estimated cost of just one of them — as calculated by the parliamentary budget officer.
Last week, the Tories introduced four crime-related bills in Parliament.
One would kill the so-called faint hope clause that allows some people serving life sentences to apply for parole after 15 years (instead of the usual 25 common for first-degree murder and other life sentence convictions).
Another would revive two highly contentious parts of the Anti-terrorism Act that were subject to sunset clauses in the original legislation and are no longer in force. The changes would allow police to detain suspects without charge in terrorism investigations and could force people to testify at secret terrorism-related hearings.
A third bill would institute minimum jail terms for certain offences, including arson, counterfeiting and extortion.
Opposition parties have asked the government for an estimate of how much the reforms — with the resulting longer jail sentences, detentions without charge and other consequences — will cost.
While a total figure has yet to be tabulated, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says just one government initiative, the elimination of two-for-one sentencing credit for time served in pre-trial custody, will cost between $7 billion and $10 billion over the next five years.
Two-for-one credit allows criminals to get two years taken off their sentence for every one that they were detained leading up to their sentencing. It is a common judicial practice meant to provide some compensation for the conditions of pre-trial detention, during which people do not have access to the services regular prisoners do, and the delay in bringing a case to trial.
Page's complex investigation into the budget implications of the elimination of two-for-one sentencing is expected to be made public early next week.
Sources familiar with the document told The Canadian Press that the study concludes the provinces will have to pick up about three-quarters of the costs while Ottawa will cover the rest.

Government likely to contest Page's analysis

The report is likely to provoke a showdown between Page's office and the government. Ottawa has always maintained that much of the increased cost of longer jail terms could be absorbed by shuffling prisoners to prisons that have extra space or by more double-bunking — the practice of putting two prisoners in one cell.
Critics call that practice "chicken-caging" and say it would be a betrayal of Canada's international commitments to maintain certain standards in the correctional system.
In an interview Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged the government doesn't have a precise idea of how much the legislation will end up costing.
"We're not exactly sure how much it will cost us," Toews said. "There are some low estimates, and some that would see more spent — not more than $90 million."
Toews said that amount has been set aside over this year and next to implement the law at the federal level and expand existing facilities if need be.
The provinces should not see any increase in costs, Toews said, noting that the impetus for the legislation came mainly from provincial attorneys-general.

Cutting credit for time served will be costly

The change in sentencing credit, known as Bill C-25, took effect in February after Prime Minister Stephen Harper filled five vacant Senate seats with loyal Conservatives to make sure the legislation would pass.
An earlier version of the bill, introduced before Harper prorogued Parliament last December at a time when the upper chamber had a slim Liberal majority, died in the Senate.
Under the new law, judges are required to count the time spent in pre-trial as straight time served, in most cases. As a result, many criminals will likely be in prison far longer than before, putting a strain on infrastructure and tight budgets.
The practical effects of the legislation have never been thoroughly examined in public. The government has refused to release its internal analysis of the impact of the reform on prison populations and correctional budgets.
"It's always difficult to estimate what the impact is going to be," Toews said.
"Quite frankly, I'm not so sure that there will be a significant increase in our [prison] population."
According to the parliamentary budget officer's analysis, the $90 million set aside by Ottawa for the reform will not be nearly enough to cover the resulting costs.
Page devoted a third of his staff and six months to building statistical models to estimate the financial impact of the sentencing change and had outside experts assess the results.
The Bill C-25 cost estimate was requested by Liberal MP Mark Holland after The Canadian Press revealed last fall that the costs could be large and that MPs passed the legislation without the benefit of a government cost estimate.
"It's going to show that the costs involved are mind-boggling," Holland said in an interview.

The Harper government's prison-sentencing laws will cost Canadians billions of dollars, including an estimated $2 billion for one piece of legislation alone, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged Wednesday.
Toews said the government has a good idea of the overall cost of its aggressive law-and-order agenda, but does not want to make the numbers public.
"I'd rather not share my idea on that," Toews told reporters on Parliament Hill.
"It will come out in due course."
Toews commented Wednesday as a pre-emptive strike against Canada's independent Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, who is to release a report next week that is expected to peg the cost of one new law -- ending two-for-one sentencing credits for time already served in custody -- in the billions.
The estimate released by Toews ballooned almost overnight -- the government has previously said it set aside $89 million for the first year of the new legislation, which took effect in February.
"I can tell you one thing," Toews said. "Our government is prepared to pay the cost to keep dangerous offenders in prison."
Ending two-for-one credits is one of several Harper government law-and-order initiatives designed to put more people in prison and keep them there longer.
Toews reiterated Wednesday that the government has no immediate plans to build new prisons, but said that it will renovate existing ones and rely more on double-bunking prisoners.
Craig Jones, executive director of the John Howard Society, said that the Conservatives are going down the same road as the U.S., where tough-sentencing initiatives have failed to reduce crime.
"In the United States, the cost of so-called crime agendas are staggeringly large and disproportionate to the amount of crime reduction they actually purchase," he said.
"It seems like the government has cast its crime agenda on the American model and there is no reason to think they are going to be any more successful at reducing crime."
Jones also questioned how Canadians will ever know if they are getting value for their money, given that crime rates have been declining since the early 1990s. Other Tory promises include mandatory jail terms for drug-related crimes, curtailing the use of conditional sentences, and ending automatic statutory release after serving two-thirds of a sentence.
Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland had asked Page to look at the costs of the government's sentencing bills, and his office intends to release a series of reports, starting with the one on two-for-one credit.
Prisoner-rights advocates have consistently estimated over the Past five years that the Conservative prison agenda would cost billions.
Jones said that he has done his own "crude" analysis of the new law ending two-for-one credits, which put the cost in the $8-to $10-billion range for that one initiative.

New "tough on crime" sentencing rules to cost $ 2 billion! Is it working? Absolutely not!

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday that one part of Ottawa's reform of criminal sentences will cost the federal government $2 billion over five years.

The sentencing changes, which came into effect in February, eliminate the so-called two-for-one credit given to prisoners who spent pre-trial time in custody. As a result, it is expected the average prisoner will be incarcerated for longer, at a greater cost to the country's correctional centres.
In a report expected to be made public next week, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says the sentencing reforms will cost between $7 billion and $10 billion over the next five years.
About three-quarters of those costs will be borne by the provinces, since most sentences are for less than two years and are therefore served in provincial jails.
The federal government refused to declare how much it thought the sentencing reforms would cost when the legislation was debated last fall.
And despite calls from the opposition, it still won't divulge the total anticipated price of its criminal-law reform bills. Last week, the Conservatives introduced bills to kill the "faint hope" clause that allows some murderers to apply for early parole, to institute minimum jail sentences for convicted arsonists and counterfeiters, and to revive two contentious provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act.
The government has an idea of what the total cost will be above and beyond the $2 billion for nixing the two-for-one credit, Toews told reporters Wednesday after many questions on the subject.
But then he added: "I'd rather not share my idea on that. They will come out in due course.
"Our government is prepared to pay the cost in order to keep dangerous offenders in prison," Toews said. "We actually believe that dangerous criminals should not be on the streets."

Government stonewalled

Page's estimates on the two-for-one sentencing reform came in response to a request last fall from a Liberal MP. The costing is rough, laden with caveats, and will be presented as a price range. That's because the government refused to hand over much of the data requested by the budget watchdog, and his office was left developing its own statistical models based partly on U.S. prison data.
Toews said he has not seen the budget officer's report, but his officials tell him it is flawed — a response widely anticipated by a peer review panel brought together by the budget office to examine its methodology.
"We fully expect government to say these numbers are garbage," said Craig Jones, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, a group that advocates on prison issues.
But unless Toews is prepared to share details of his own costing with the public, the minister has no grounds to complain about the watchdog's work, Jones said.
The sentencing reforms that came into force in February eliminate the common judicial practice of granting convicts double credit toward their prison sentence for the time they were detained leading up to their trial. Judges would often grant the two-for-one credit to offenders because many pre-trial jails across the country are in poor condition.
The new law says judges can grant no more than 1.5-times credit, and only in exceptional cases. The effect will be to extend the amount of time many inmates spend in custody, be it federal or provincial.
The federal government will accommodate the increase by putting two inmates in each cell, or by expanding existing prisons, Toews has said.

Man receives 4 year prison sentence for sexually abusing stepdaughter

A Winnipeg teen says she no longer believes in God after her stepfather subjected her to repeated sexual abuse.
“If he existed, he would have done something to save me,” the girl wrote in a victim impact statement.
The girl’s 44-year-old stepfather was convicted after a trial in December of one count of sexual interference and sentenced Thursday to four years in prison. Justice Lea Duval stayed an additional count of sexual assault.

The girl testified her stepfather began molesting her when she was 11 years old. The abuse continued for approximately 18 months and graduated to sexual intercourse.
The man was arrested after the girl reported the abuse to her school guidance counsellor.
The man continues to deny abusing his stepdaughter, “has no empathy for the (victim) and has expressed no remorse,” according to a pre-sentence report.
The man has maintained a relationship with the girl’s mother while the girl lives in foster care, separated from friends and family.
The girl’s mother “indicated that despite being supportive of her daughter, she finds it difficult to believe the charges,” Duval noted in a written decision.
Duval rejected a defence request that the man serve a conditional sentence in the community.

A Winnipeg man has been sentenced to four years in prison for repeatedly sexually abusing his young stepdaughter.
The 44-year-old -- who can't be named to protect the identity of the 11-year-old victim -- had been seeking a conditional sentence that would have allowed him to remain free in the community. The Crown was asking for up to six years behind bars.
The abuse began with fondling but eventually progressed to sexual intercourse, which happened on several occasions during a 12- to 18-month period, court was told. It ended when the victim told friends, and then her school guidance counsellor, about what was happening.
The man fought the allegations at trial and has continued to deny any wrongdoing despite being convicted. He has been deemed a medium risk to reoffend.
"There are no exceptional circumstances in respect of the case at bar which would justify imposing a conditional sentence," Queen's Bench Justice Lea Duval said in a written decision released Thursday.
The stepdaughter, who is now a teenager, filed a victim impact statement in which she discussed the ongoing emotional and psychological trauma she is suffering. The girl said she no longer trusts any adult men and was "terrified" to have to testify in court. She no longer believes in God, saying if he existed "he would have done something to save me." She said she "could have been a different person" had she not been abused.
Her stepfather's name will now be placed on the national sex offender database. He has also been ordered to have no contact with any children under the age of 16 for a 10-year period following his release.

The only info both these articles are missing, is about the offender's past background, childhood, was he himself sexually abused? and any mitigating factors. 

From the information from the article, I would have suggested a 2.5 year prison sentence, as I feel 4 years is too harsh. The man has no prior record (the article did not state that he had one, so I am assuming he doesn't). The aggravating factors in this case include the fact that he is denying any wrongdoing, which is common among sex offenders, has no empathy for the victim and no remorse. I would suggest that he be evaluated by a psychiatrist for psychopathy personality disorder or any other mental disorders, as he exhibits some of the symptoms. 

In prison, I would make it mandatory for him to see a psychologist, to possibly uncover the underlying issues behind his criminal behaviour, such as childhood abuse, which is very common among sex offenders and for him to receive counseling. It would also be beneficial for him to participate in sex offender programs in prison so he can learn the impact of abuse on victims, and learn to address the factors that contribute to the abuse and learn to manage them effectively. Also, if he receives parole or statutory release, I would also make in mandatory that he continue sex offender treatment in the community.    

Man facing 50 years if convicted in America

An American man who sought asylum in Canada to avoid prosecution on child-sex charges in his homeland has been deported.
Troy Robert Greenbank was transferred to the custody of U.S. authorities after his bid to remain in Canada failed, a Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson said Thursday.
Greenbank, a 31-year-old Missouri native, entered Canada at the Emerson crossing on Sept. 30, 2008, and had been staying in a Winnipeg hotel for about a week when he was arrested by police.
He entered the country before he was indicted in Missouri on two sex offences involving a minor.
He challenged deportation proceedings and attempted to obtain refugee status.
Greenbank had been in CBSA custody since his arrest, the spokesperson said.
He’s accused of trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 10-year-old girl and the girl’s mom, whom he met in an Internet chat room.

He came to Canada 17 months ago looking to escape prosecution on serious child sex charges.
But the long arm of the law has not only led to his deportation, Troy Greenbank is facing up to 50 years behind bars if convicted in his home state of Missouri on allegations he arranged to have sex with a 10-year-old girl following an Internet arrangement with the victim's mother.
"I would like to commend the CBSA (Canadian Boarder Services Agency) officers involved in the removal of this individual from our country," federal public safety minister Vic Toews said in a statement. "This government will not tolerate the harbouring of fugitives from justice. We are committed to ensuring that the safety and security of Canadians are not compromised."
The Free Press first broke news of Greenbank's November 2008 arrest and his subsequent fight to remain in Canada. Winnipeg police found Greenbank inside the Woodbine Hotel on Main Street, where he'd been living since he crossed into Canada through the Emerson border about a month earlier. He was allowed entry into the country because he has no prior criminal record and charges of child pornography and procuring sex with a minor had not yet been laid by U.S. officials.
The Free Press obtained court documents that outline the disturbing allegations against Greenback.
Greenbank allegedly met a woman in an Internet chat room in 2007 and arranged for them to meet at a motel in Springfield, Mo., to have sex. Greenbank is then accused of requesting to have a threesome with the woman and her 10-year-old daughter.
Police raided Greenbank's home and seized several items including DVDs "depicting sadistic sexual behaviour," books and materials on serial killers and covert surveillance and spy equipment, according to documents. Police have taken several statements from witnesses, including Greenbank's ex-wife and another woman he previously met online.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Banning knives is pointless

KNIFE crime might be on the rise in Winnipeg, but banning blades won't help and amounts to a knee-jerk overreaction, say Winnipeg defence lawyers.
And it turns out the only province considering such a measure -- Saskatchewan -- pretty much agrees.
"We have not yet come up with legislation that we believe will be a workable and effective tool for police," said Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan Wednesday. "At this point, it's not on."
Statistics Canada data released earlier this week show Winnipeg leads the country in violent crimes involving a knife. More than 80 Winnipeggers have been killed with a knife since 1999 and more than 1,700 Manitobans were the victims of knife crimes in 2008 alone.
That prompted some to suggest Manitoba ought to follow Saskatchewan's lead and consider banning blades in public places or placing age restrictions on who can buy some kinds of knives. Saskatchewan started looking at legislation after a plea from Saskatoon's police chief, who is also grappling with a high rate of knife crime.
Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan was asked about Saskatchewan's idea and said he'd consider any interesting proposals. Provincial staff said the idea of a blade ban will likely be discussed at next month's gathering of provincial and federal justice ministers in Vancouver.
Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill echoed Swan, saying police are seeing more edged weapons used in crime and he's open to anything that could help police combat knife violence.
But McCaskill reserved judgment until he knows exactly what Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill is proposing and what the Saskatchewan government might do. McCaskill called Weighill Tuesday to ask for some details.
But Saskatchewan's justice experts have so far been unable to work out the kinks in any proposed legislation banning blades.
Prohibiting or restricting certain kinds of weapons is probably a federal issue under the Criminal Code, said Morgan. And any restrictions came with some unpalatable consequences. If you ban knives in public places, like parks, you risk penalizing families on picnics. If you ban the use of knives longer than a foot, that affects hunters and fishermen. And, said Morgan, it's not clear how legislation can stop one of the most typical crimes, a kitchen-knife stabbing at a house party.
Instead, Morgan said he's looking at ways to help his Crown prosecutors get more aggressive in charging suspects in knife-related crimes. He may ask Ottawa to toughen the penalties for knife crimes under the Criminal Code.
That's good news for two criminal defence lawyers, who say the idea of restrictions or bans on knives is fraught with problems exactly like the ones Saskatchewan has encountered.
"It's knee-jerk politicking at its very worst," said lawyer Danny Gunn.

So they think that banning knives in public is going to solve all problems and crimes? Sorry, but it wont. Just because something is banned per se, does not mean people wont still use knives in public. You can hide them on your body and police are not going to strip search every person. If someone gets in a fight, they could still just as easily, pull out their hidden knife and kill somebody. It's virtually un-enforceable. Plus, some people need knives in public, such as hunters and fishers. So how are they supposed to enforce that? They cant. Besides the most common type of knife used in knife related crime, is a kitchen knife and you certainly cant ban those. So banning knives would be pointless and really, I dont believe it would lead to any safer societies. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Yuletide Bandit -- Michael Syrnyk

I just finished reading Mike McIntyre's novel called The Yuletide Bandit today, about a man named Michael Syrnyk, who went on a 7 year crime spree, involving robberies, break ins and a hostage taking which resulted in him shooting 3 people, including 2 police officers. Michael came from a difficult background, due to family violence as a child resulting in his parents divorcing, his grandmother passing away when he was young and his mother passing away from cancer later in his life. He struggled with mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety and felt powerless in his life. He had difficulty connecting with and relating to others, which is why he didn't like the idea of conventional work and he resorted to a criminal lifestyle of robberies. He used the money he made to indulge in drugs and alcohol, pay for sex at massage parlours, which were both an attempt to relieve his symptoms of anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts he was experiencing. It was a financial means to life for Syrnyk, due to the fact that he found conventional work and dealing with the public, intolerable. 

Syrnyk was always shy and was lonely most of his life. He isolated himself socially from others because he had difficulty relating to and connecting with others. He felt guilty after committing a crime, and suffered from thoughts  of death and emptiness. He also struggled with managing his thoughts and emotions, which is also what led him to substance abuse. He didn't know how to cope with life's challenges, was dissatisfied with his life, and felt a sense of self-loathing and apathy. He had struggled with anxiety, social anxiety, and depression most of his life. 

He was sentenced to 23 years prison by a Judge in December 2002. The defence suggested 15 years prison. Personally, I think 23 years was far too harsh, as Syrnyk has great potential to be rehabilitated. I would have supported between 12 and 15 years. In prison, I think he could benefit from violence prevention programs where he can learn communication skills and better social skills, substance abuse programs, medications for depression and counseling by a psychologist for his social anxiety, self esteem and confidence along with education and employment assistance and training. 

Aggravating Circumstances
Mitigating Circumstances
15 armed robberies, 9 armoured car heists, 8 break ins, shot 3 people (including 2 police officers), one hostage taking
Pleaded guilty to 35 charges
Used violence in robberies
Expressed deep remorse and cooperated with police
Used weapons to threaten victims
Strong family support system
Crimes were planned and pre-meditated
Good character as described by family and friends (loving, caring, compassionate, generous, shy, lonely, gentle, considerate)
Stole $300,000 +
History of mental health issues (anxiety, social anxiety, self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, felt powerless in his life, difficulty relating and connecting to others)

Substance abuse of ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, morphine, LSD

Family violence/divorce likely led to mental health problems

Sentencing date set for woman charged with failing to provide the necessities of life

Shirley Guimond, 55, will find out her fate on May 12 for failing to provide the necessities of life in the death of her young nephew Gage.
On Wednesday afternoon the judge reserved her decision after hearing submissions. A final sentencing date will be set next month.
Guimond pleaded guilty in November 2009 to one charge of assault causing bodily harm involving two-year-old Gage -- her great-nephew -- and his three-year-old sister and was sentenced to time served for that offence.
Gage Guimond died in July 2007 after falling from a high chair and down a flight of stairs. Shirley Guimond was previously charged with manslaughter but later pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide the necessities of life.
On Wednesday, the Crown asked for two years in jail, minus credit for six months served. The defence, however, asked for an 18-month conditional sentence.
Both lawyers agreed Guimond should serve an additional three years supervised probation.
Court heard both children had been in the custody of Sagkeeng Child and Family Services when they were placed in Guimond's care in June 2007. In the weeks prior to Gage's death, Guimond repeatedly assaulted both children.
In a statement to police, Guimond said she "was having trouble with the children acting up and would slap them, punch them about the body, and on at least one occasion, kicked them in the buttocks," Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh told court.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said Guimond was overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for the two children as well as her 13-year-old grandson.
"It was clear at her age ... the stress of dealing with three children in the home caused her far more tension and stress than she was able to deal with," Simmonds said.

I wish this article had stated more mitigating factors and the defence lawyer's argument instead of simply the Crown. I completely agree with a conditional sentence for this woman. I do not think prison is necessary as she does not appear to be a danger to society or a high risk to re-offend. It was a mistake and I do not believe it was intentional.

A judge reserved a sentencing decision Wednesday afternoon for the death of two-year-old Gage Guimond in 2007.
Last November, Gage's great aunt, Shirley Guimond, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide the necessities of life.
In July 2007, Gage died after falling down a flight of stairs at a home on Magnus Avenue. Gage was placed through Child and Family Services in the care of his great aunt at the time.
The defence came down hard on CFS at the hearing Wednesday.
"Why in the world is Shirley Guimond sitting alone in this box when in my view the system, CFS, has a greater sense of responsibility than Mrs. Guimond," said Saul Simmonds, defence lawyer.
Simmonds said CFS took Gage out of care from another foster family to place the boy with Shirley.
Gage's family agreed in part with some of the criticisms of CFS but said Shirley Guimond is ultimately responsible for the boy's death.
"She could have said no to CFS," said Natasha Guimond, Gage's biological mother.
Shirley offered a statement in court Wednesday.
"I'm sorry for (what) happened. I have to live with this for the rest of my life. I wish it never happened at all. That's all I have to say," said Shirley.
Victim impact statements were read out in court Wednesday from Gage's biological mother and former foster parents.
"I loved him as if he was my own. Now he is gone," said Gage's former foster father.
The maximum sentence in the case is five years. The Crown is asking for two years, less a day. The defence wants it served in the community. A new sentencing date has not yet been set.

System to blame in Guimond's death
Shirley Guimond shouldn’t be the only one sitting in the prisoner’s box awaiting sentencing in the death of her two-year-old great nephew Gage, a judge was told Wednesday.
“In my view, the system should be in this box with a greater deal of responsibility than Ms. Guimond,” said her lawyer Saul Simmonds.
Gage Guimond died in July 2007 after falling from a high chair and down a flight of stairs. Shirley Guimond was originally charged with manslaughter but pleaded guilty last November to failing to provide the necessities of life.
Court heard Gage and his three-year-old sister had been in the custody of Sagkeeng Child and Family Services before they were placed in Guimond’s care in June 2007. In the weeks prior to Gage’s death, Guimond — who was also caring for her 13-year-old grandson — repeatedly assaulted the two young children.
Guimond, 55, pleaded guilty in November to assault causing bodily harm and was sentenced to 68 days time served plus three years supervised probation.
Simmonds argued Sagkeeng CFS foisted the children on Guimond against her wishes.
“She was not out there asking to be a foster parent,” Simmonds said. “CFS came to her. Her position was she was clearly not prepared for that task.”
Guimond “reluctantly” agreed to care for the children but was asking CFS to take them back after two weeks, Simmonds said.
“Her personality is such that if you pressure her she will cave,” he said. “Unfortunately, you don’t go to the weak to take in a child under those circumstances.”
Simmonds alleged CFS removed the children from the home of loving foster parents and placed them in Guimond’s care for “political” reasons.
“This is not an isolated incident from their perspective,” he said.
Simmonds also fired criticism at local media which he accused of grossly misrepresenting the facts of the case.
“(Guimond) was treated in custody like a leper ... tormented and tortured,” he said.
Court heard on the day Gage was fatally injured, Guimond had been out shopping with the three children and needed to use the washroom when they got back home. She placed the boy in a backless high chair adjacent to the basement stairs and ran to the washroom. When Guimond returned, Gage had fallen down the stairs, critically injuring himself.
Guimond called 911 and Gage was rushed to hospital where he died several days later.
Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh described the boy’s death as “shocking and avoidable” and urged Judge Lee Ann Martin to sentence Guimond to two years in jail.
The maximum sentence for failing to provide the necessities of life is five years in prison. Simmonds argued Guimond should serve an 18-month conditional sentence in the community.
“This is not one of those cases that cries out for more custody in a facility,” he said. “This is a momentary lapse, not a lengthy one.”
Natasha Guimond, Gage’s mother, told court her son’s death has “scarred her forever.”
“How could I allow him to go?” she cried, reading from a victim impact statement. “It wasn’t supposed to be forever. It has been a rough road without my son.”
Martin reserved her sentence. A final sentencing date will be set next month.

Judge delays sentencing in 2 year old's death
A judge has reserved a sentencing decision in the death of two-year-old Gage Guimond who died in the care of his great-aunt.
Last November, Shirley Caroline Guimond pleaded guilty to assault cause bodily harm for injuries both Gage and his sister sustained from slapping and punching. She also pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life to Gage when he fell down a set of stairs in July 2007.
Then, a judge said Guimond would do no further time in jail for the assault charge, after giving her double credit for 68 days she'd already spent behind bars.
Now a judge will decide the sentence she'll do for the second charge. Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh told Provincial Court Judge Lee Ann Martin on Wednesday that Guimond should do two years less a day in provincial jail, minus about six months time served, for a crime that was "senseless, avoidable and sad."
"We can't ignore that this was an offence against a young boy who was incapable of looking after himself," Kavanagh told the court.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said Guimond should be able to serve a two-year sentence under house arrest.
Both lawyers said Guimond should also be given three years of supervised probation.
Martin reserved her decision.
The mother of the two-year-boy said Wednesday she's against house arrest for the woman. Natasha Guimond said 55-year-old Shirley Guimond should do time behind bars.
Only six weeks after Sagkeeng Child and Family Services agency had placed Gage and his sister at a Magnus Avenue foster home with a great-aunt they'd never met, emergency responders found Gage with serious head injuries and struggling to breathe.
Court heard Shirley Guimond had placed the boy on a chair next to stairs while she used a bathroom, and the boy tumbled over a plywood guard rail to the bottom.
She was originally charged with manslaughter.
"She admitted she beat my kids, she's just not admitting for killing my son because how can anyone admit that?" said Natasha Guimond, who wept on the steps of the courthouse.
Natasha Guimond's children went into CFS when she was 19 years old and struggling to care for them.
They then were placed with foster parents before CFS removed them and placed them with Shirley Guimond.
Simmonds said his client contacted CFS to tell them she could not handle caring for the kids in addition to another teenager already in her home, but help didn't come.
"Why in the world is Ms. Guimond alone in this box?" Simmonds asked.
After Gage fell, Shirley Guimond called 911 and tried to revive the boy but he eventually died of his injuries.
"I just want to say I'm sorry for what happened," she told court Wednesday.

No more jail time for tot's death
Where is sympathy for Gage?
All the evil done to Gage and no-one pays the price
No retribution for Gage's death
CFS should shoulder blame for child's death

This is such a sad story, but I do not think that this death was intentional on Guimond's part. She struggled caring for the children. She also called 911 herself and tried to revive the child, which shows caring actions, not callous actions. This act was not intentional and therefore I feel she should receive a conditional sentence. She is not dangerous, violent or high risk and should not be placed in prison, where she could be negatively influenced. It was a simple mistake and could happen to anyone. She put the child in the chair next to stairs while she ran to the washroom. She couldn't foresee in the future, that he may fall and ultimately die. She does not deserve to be punished. To me, this isn't even a criminal act! It's a mistake which could happen to anybody.    

Winnipeg man pleads guilty to second degree murder

Stanton Burlen Viner has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the July 2007 killing of 35-year-old Aynsley Aurora Kinch.
Jury selection in the case was set to begin Thursday.
The mandatory sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Viner will be sentenced at a later date.
The Crown and defence will jointly recommend a period of parole ineligibility.
Kinch's body was found in a field northwest of Winnipeg the morning of July 15, 2007.

Man pleads guilty to strangling woman in 2007
A man who was facing a jury trial for the 2007 murder of Aynsley Kinch entered a surprise guilty plea this morning.
Stanton Viner, 52, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder one day before jury selection for his trial was to begin.
Kinch’s body was found in a field near Murray Avenue on the morning of July 15, 2007.
Viner told court this morning that he had killed Kinch by strangling her.
Sentencing has been set for June 3. Viner faces a minimum 10-year with no parole eligibility for 10 years.
Crown attorney Christina Kopynsky said the issue at sentencing, before Justice Colleen Suche, is when Viner will be eligible to apply for parole.

Guilty plea in killing of sex trade worker
There will be no trial for a man arrested in the July 2007 killing of Aynsley Kinch.
Stanton Burlen Viner, 52, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder one day before jury selection was set to begin in his trial.
Kinch, a 35-year-old mother of three involved in the sex trade, was found dead in a field northwest of Winnipeg.
During a plea inquiry before Justice Colleen Suche, Viner admitted to strangling Kinch to death.
Viner faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. He must serve between 10 and 25 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
The Crown and defence have agreed on a specific period of parole ineligibility but did not disclose it to the court.
Viner will return to court June 3 for sentencing. Crown attorney Christina Kopynsky said the adjournment will allow Kinch’s loved ones time to prepare victim impact statements for court.
Viner is still before the court on unrelated sex charges.
According to National Parole Documents, Viner has a history of violence that spans his entire adult life, including a conviction for severely beating two people and another for sexual assault. Parole board files say he assaulted two victims at a residence on July 15, 2004, punching one and repeatedly hitting the other with a fan and severely injuring both.
Viner received a two-year sentence for assault causing bodily harm but denied police reports stating he also grabbed a knife and held it to a female’s throat in the same home.
Viner was also sentenced to three years in prison for a sexual assault committed on Nov. 10, 1992, and convicted of using excessive force in a past job as a bouncer.

I really wish MMS of life in prison for murder, were abolished. Judges should be able to have more discretion in considering all the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of each individual offender and each individual crime in deciding upon an appropriate and just sanction. All murders and all offenders are different, yet they are treated as though they were equal, by imposing the same sentence on all offenders convicted of murder. This is not right and it is not fair or equal in any way. 

Winnipeg has the highest rate of knife-related violence

They're still there on her lower back, two scars that tell the story of the night she was stabbed.
Charisse Fredette, 19, is one of over 1,000 Winnipeggers who was robbed, threatened or attacked with a knife in 2008. The city led the country in violent crimes involving a knife, according to a Statistics Canada study released Tuesday.

Ranking the cities

What cities have high rates of knife-related violence?
Winnipeg: 10.2 per cent of total victims (1,015 victims)
Regina: 10 per cent (349)
Edmonton: 9.8 per cent (1,361)
Saskatoon: 8.7 per cent (401)
Greater Sudbury: 8.6 per cent (147)
Calgary: 8.5 per cent (804)
Vancouver: 7.3 per cent (2,098)
Victims of violent crime committed with knives, like robberies and assaults. Includes cities over 100,000 people.
-- Source: Statistics Canada
The report says that knives -- or other sharp objects like broken bottles, screw drivers, scissors or nail guns -- are the most common weapons used across Canada in violent crimes like assaults and robberies.
For victims like Fredette, the experience was terrifying.
"You don't feel nothing at first. Then you feel a sharp pain," said Fredette, who was stabbed on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge in August 2008 by a man and a teenage girl. "I was scared for my organs inside, if they hit that, or if they hit my spine.
"I think about it all the time, like at night when I'm walking around... I don't trust nobody."
In Winnipeg, 10 per cent of all victims of violent crimes were either injured or threatened by someone with a knife. That's higher than the national average of six per cent.
Guns are involved in about two per cent of all violent crimes in Canada.
The cities with the highest rates of knife violent are located in Western Canada, with Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all trailing Winnipeg.
Statistics Canada senior analyst Mia Dauvergne said the rate of violent crimes involving knives stayed "relatively stable" over the last decade.
It's the first time that Statistics Canada has done a study specifically on knives and violent crime in Canada, following a spate of high-profile knife-related attacks like the Greyhound bus beheading of Tim McLean in July 2008. The report uses statistics that police across the country collected in 2008.
The report also notes that youths and young adults -- from 12 to 24 years old -- are most likely to commit violent crime with knives.
"Youth and young adults may use knives instead of other weapons such as firearms, because they are readily accessible and more easily concealed," said the report.
For example, a 13-year-old girl who is currently facing a charge of assault with a weapon in connection with a North End stabbing last December told the Free Press she hurt another girl after her friend gave her a kitchen knife. She said she can't recall her precise motivations for the attack, but now regrets it.
"I was mad," she said.
The girl is still before the courts and has no contact with the victim.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said it may be easier for people to obtain weapons like knives, compared with guns.
In Fredette's case, she didn't realize she'd been stabbed until she walked about a block and felt a sharp pain, blood soaking her black sweater. She recovered at hospital but now avoids walking alone at night around the city's core area. She survived the ordeal after friends chased the pair of attackers off.
Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Manitoba also led the country in robberies in 2008. There were 158 recorded robberies per 100,000 people -- more than second-place Saskatchewan at 128, British Columbia at 123 and Alberta at 105.
All other provinces were below 100 per 100,000 people.

In 2008, violent crimes committed with a knife, accounted for 6% of all violent incidents. 
Homicides and attempted murders had the highest proportion of incidents involving knives (1/3rd)
Knife violence was highest in Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton at about 10% of all violent crimes. 

Just because this report says that there is more knife violence in Winnipeg, does not mean that crime is increasing. Crime rates have been decreasing for the past 30 years, even violent crimes. It also does not mean that Winnipeg is any less safe than it used to be. The facts remain that most victims of violence know their attacker, as a family member, friend or acquaintance. Violence between strangers is rare, but it does happen.

No more discretion for probation officers -- Young offenders must follow court orders

PROBATION officers will have no discretion when it comes to young offenders ordered by a judge to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, Premier Greg Selinger said Tuesday.
It's the first sign the province is putting its foot down on its probation services after a week of stinging criticism from the Opposition Progressive Conservatives that too many young convicted car thieves ignore court orders because they know they won't be reported to police and re-arrested.

The issue:
The Selinger government has been blasted for the past week on why a 14-year-old chronic car thief thumbed his nose at the law 24 times without consequence in a six-week period, leading to him killing a Winnipeg cab driver with a speeding, stolen SUV in March 2008.
The response:
Attorney General Andrew Swan rejected calls for a tougher zero-tolerance policy on young offenders who breach court orders. Swan said that approach won't help make these kids better people.
What's new:
The NDP was hammered again Tuesday by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives and Liberals in reaction to a Free Press story that a probation officer allowed a high-risk young offender to return to the community without wearing his court-ordered electronic ankle bracelet. The youth, 17, went on to commit several new crimes, including a violent home invasion in which he and two adult gang members attacked a man in front of his four-year-old son.
The response:
Premier Greg Selinger said the system failed and vowed it won't be repeated.
"Where an electronic monitoring device is required by a court order it should be implemented fully without any exceptions for the full period of the court order in order to ensure that individual is monitored on a 24-7 basis," Selinger said.

Selinger was responding to a case reported by the Free Press in which a provincial probation officer allowed a high-risk young offender to return to the community without wearing a court-ordered electronic ankle bracelet.
"This incident is one which is unacceptable to the public, it's unacceptable to this government and I'm sure it's unacceptable to every member of this legislature," Selinger said firmly in question period. "Clearly, when these kinds of things happen the system can improve its ability to protect public safety and security."
Selinger said when a young offender is ordered to wear an anklet as part of a probation order, as many high-risk auto thieves are, the government now expects them to wear it until the court order expires.
"Resources are being reallocated to provide more monitoring and enforcement for court orders for high-risk offenders," the premier said.
The government's tougher stance on how probation officers do their jobs came after Attorney General Andrew Swan meet Tuesday morning with the province's top law enforcement officials to tighten up probation enforcement.
Swan said he's ordered a review of the case reported by the Free Press to see what went wrong. The results are expected to be known in the coming days.
Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen said the province has to take it one step further by also bringing in a zero-tolerance policy so that any breach by a high-risk offender, no matter how slight, lands them back in jail.
The Tories also want the government to disclose how many young offenders are in breach of a court order.
The province has so far declined to do either.
Progressive Conservative Justice Critic Kelvin Goertzen said what Swan can do is crack down on probation officers buying "treats" with department funds for the kids they're supposed to be watching, including Slurpees, doughnuts and tickets to Goldeyes baseball games.
Details of the spending -- Swan describes it as a reward for good behaviour -- came out Monday during a budget-estimates meeting.
"No wonder... high-risk offenders keep coming back into the NDP system of justice," Goertzen said Tuesday. "It's like Disneyland. It's the happiest place on Earth. Slurpees, doughnuts, baseball tickets. It's time he stopped trying to be a pal to every offender."
Swan said he has committed to go through the past five years of probation services spending to see what was spent by officers on young offenders, and what was actually bought.
He said he has not ordered a halt on that spending pending the outcome of that review.

I agree with high risk young offenders being required to wear an ankle bracelet, if that is the sanction they receive from the court. And I also agree with the youths being rewarded occasionally with a treat, if they display good behaviour. It's classic operant conditioning. Rewards are an incentive for teens to maintain their good behaviour, in order to get another reward. I see no problems with that.  

Justice Minister Andrew Swan's spirited defence last week of probation officers' wide discretion in monitoring youth in the community was weakened Tuesday amid revelations a serious young offender was allowed to walk free of his court-ordered ankle bracelet. Winnipeggers are worried about the probation system's ability to keep the public safe.
Mr. Swan says probation officers must exercise professional judgment. True, minor breaches -- late for school, late for checking in with a probation officer -- should not launch an offender back into jail.

There may also be a disconnect between whom the courts and probation services regard as best candidates for ankle bracelets. An inveterate offender is unlikely to be deterred by a bracelet that apparently is easy to remove -- Mr. Swan has told a legislative committee two youths removed bracelets four times each.
But they can't work, in any case, if they're not used. In the most recent case of a failure of probation services to enforce court-ordered conditions of release, a young offender landed repeatedly back in jail and each time he was released in the community without the tracking device a judge had insisted he wear. This year, while on probation, the youth invaded a North End home, where a man was beaten up.
Mr. Swan has announced another review, this one to assess what went wrong. The probation officers' union says the problem lies with a system incapable of keeping up with demand. There are up to 12,000 outstanding warrants in Manitoba but jails are overloaded (see commentary elsewhere on this page). The union concludes there aren't enough jail cells to hold offenders.
It is equally true that without effective enforcement, it is futile for courts to impose conditions upon release. Further, the Justice department does not analyze who is breaching, how seriously and how many on probation commit new crimes.
Mr. Swan and his NDP predecessors insist it is the Youth Criminal Justice Act that is the problem. Absent good analysis, Manitobans can't have real confidence in that assertion. Mr. Swan's immediate concern should be to find out if probation officers have lost faith in both the law and the system.