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.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why not revoke James' pardon? Because it's not in the best interests of society, that's why

Convicted pedophile Graham James is eligible for a pardon? Pardon? You can’t be serious.
That was my first reaction.
Put me down as one of the legions of Canadians who thinks the paltry three-and-half-year holiday James had in Club Fed, which ended in 2000, is a travesty in itself. Now this?
James did get a pardon alright and predictably Canadians are outraged.
With news Wednesday that at least one other former player is seeking charges against James, this thing could just get sicker before too long.
The Canadian Press discovered James, the disgraced junior hockey coach, had been pardoned in 2007. The pardon was signed off by Pierre Dion, a full-time member of the Appeal Division of the National Parole Board. It came to light when a former hockey player from the late 1970s, who was never coached by James, learned about the pardon through recent discussions with the Winnipeg Police.
I like the Parole Board’s spin on why pardons are beneficial.
“Pardons encourage commitments to lead law-abiding lives, help people secure jobs and reduce reliance on social programs,” says its latest planning report.
Haha. Sounds fine if you’re a thief or fraudster but a pedophile? They remain a very serious risk whatever community they settle in.
As Sheldon Kennedy put it “I know how this guy works.” James uses charm and manipulation to worm his way into the lives of young athletes.
Even more ridiculous was the statement by Parole Board spokeswoman Caroline Douglas.
“We cannot discriminate based on the crime committed. Very few people are ineligible for a pardon. Everyone else is eligible no matter their crime. We have to follow the law.”
I think it’s about time they paid attention to what crime was committed.
No two criminal cases are the same. Victims of crime can’t all be lumped into one category. No one is ever going to be able to convince me that a pardon for a thief is equivalent to a pardon for a pedophile.
Alan Shanoff, QMI’s legal columnist wrote Tuesday he’s not at all surprised that James got a pardon.
Apparently it’s as easy as putting your shoes on.
In 2008-2009 the Parole Board issued 39,628 pardons. In the last five years 111,769 pardons were issued.
Someone convicted of a very serious indictable offence (like James) must wait five years before applying. The year he got his more than 7,000 others of his ilk got them. Only 103 were denied.
Let’s face it, this is a rubber stamping exercise. They’re handed out freely by the look of it. So the “shocked” Conservatives are promising to do something about the pardon laws. Why don’t they just simply revoke James’ pardon?
As Shanoff wrote, cabinet currently can grant another type of pardon — cabinet-issued pardons that erase someone’s criminal record. So why not wield the same power to take one away?
Thankfully James’ criminal record is not erased.
And it would be discovered if a criminal record check is done if he ever applied to work with children, the disabled or other vulnerable people. Still it sickens me that this guy can get any breaks at all after what he did.

The media is completely over-sensationalizing this incident and causing the public to react in an outrage. The pardon system is extremely successful and is not in need of any changes.

97% of ppl granted pardons are successful in not re-offending and only 0.2% of pardons are actually granted to sex offenders. Seems pretty successful to me.. no?

Also, we need to think of what's in the best interests for SOCIETY! It's in OUR best interests that we effectively reintegrate offenders. If we limit their access to a pardon, we limit their access to job opportunities. And with unemployment, comes the increases probability of re-offending.

Sex offenders have a lower recidivism rate than most ppl believe. Do ur research people.

I understand where you are coming from and why you would have concerns, but you have to understand, that the probability of a children being sexually assaulted by a released sex offender, is basically less than 1%. You have reason to be frustrated and afraid, but I think people are disregarding the statistics.

The truth is, that the purpose of the justice system is not to cater to the victims' needs. The purpose is deciding what is in the best interests for society and how to properly rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders back into society.

Most "criminals" will be released at some point, whether the public agrees or not, but the fact is, we NEED to make sure they are being rehabilitated and reintegrated properly, because someday, they will all be living among us. It's in our best interests to fulfill this purpose. Furthermore, many of these people can be rehabilitated and are also victims in another sense. They are victims of society and systemic discrimination, which disadvantage them. Aboriginals, for instance, make less money than Whites and are more likely to live in poverty with addiction problems. We need to help these people overcome discrimination and poverty and develop effective crime preventive programs.

Re: "PM flags sex offender's pardon; NHL players laud tougher stand," The Journal, April 6.
In light of the controversy surrounding the pardon of ex-hockey coach Graham James, the statement by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews that, "certain types of criminals cannot be rehabilitated," begs scrutiny. Where and what is his evidence to support this statement?
Regarding the current state of incarceration in this country, Toews should refer to the 2005-06 report of Howard Sapers, the government's independent prisons investigator. Sapers says program shortages are so severe they have become a threat to public safety.
"Too many offenders spend their time in prison without getting the correctional programs they need," Sapers' report says. "The result is ongoing violence and despair on the inside and increased risk of individuals reoffending once released."
This is, in 2010, still a very real problem. Rehabilitation is hardly a priority. First things first, Toews. Fix this problem. Listen to the experts.
The despicable and heinous crimes committed by James aside, it seems strange that the issue of limiting pardons for serious offences is being raised now. Not once was this issue raised by this government in its so-called "tough-on-crime" agenda, since taking power in 2006.
Before embarking on changes to a system that has served Canadians and the criminal justice system well for many years, despite some failures and setbacks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should re-think and re-consider the consequences of his government's proposed changes to the Criminal Records Act.
According to the National Parole Board, 96 per cent of all offenders who are granted pardons do not reoffend. Of the 234,000 pardons granted in Canada since 1970, fewer than three per cent have been revoked; a pardon can be revoked on even a suspicion or on an allegation of wrongdoing.
Is this another case of the prime minister shamelessly plodding along, cheered on by his public safety minister and justice minister, in perpetuating myths that, contrary to the facts, crime is out of control in this country? Is he stoking the ideological fires to justify his tough-on-crime policies ... and get re-elected?
Emile Therien, volunteer, John Howard Society, Ottawa

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