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, May 20, 2010

Judge forced to give teen mandatory minimum sentence. Abolish mandatory minimums!!

Eighteen-year-old Jordan Flett had never been in trouble with the law.
Then he had his heart broken, got drunk and shot one of his best friends in the leg.
Now 20, the Peguis First Nation resident pleaded guilty Wednesday to discharging a firearm with intent to cause bodily harm and was sentenced to four years in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence for the offence.
“In my opinion, this is a perfect example of why minimum sentences shouldn’t be forced on the court without some discretion,” said Judge Brent Stewart.
“I unfortunately have my hands tied.”
Court heard Flett had been drinking for several hours at a friend’s house party when he became upset at the presence of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
“Between the alcohol consumption and being jilted, he was inconsolable at that point,” said Crown attorney Rustyn Ullrich.
Flett left, telling partygoers he was going to return with a gun.
“The partygoers, at that point, didn’t take it very seriously,” Ullrich said. “He had no criminal record, there was no reason to believe he would follow through.”
Thirty minutes later, Flett returned with a rifle and shot at the house.
Two of Flett’s friends came out of the house and tried to calm him down.
Flett threatened to shoot them in the leg if they approached him.
“(The victim) decides he can’t possibly be serious and starts to move closer and sure enough, Mr. Flett looks through the scope, fires off a round, hitting (the victim) in the upper thigh area,” Ullrich said.
The other man ran for cover.
Ullrich said Flett was immediately shocked by what he had done and yelled at a man inside the house to come out and help the victim. The man did not leave the house, thinking it was a ruse.
Flett and the victim were boyhood friends who were “always together” playing hockey, wrote his father in an e-mail to the court.
“He’s not the type to hurt anyone,” he wrote.
Defence lawyer Ryan Amy said he feared Flett will be corrupted and abused by gang forces inside Stony Mountain Institution.
Stewart recommended justice authorities transfer Flett “as quickly as possible” to the minimum-security Rockwood Institution “and not harden you and let you come out as a mean ex-con out to get people.”
Flett’s mother sobbed uncontrollably as he was led out of court, crying out, “I love you, my son.”

This is why mandatory minimum sentences should be abolished!! They leave judges with absolutely no discretion in considering all circumstances of a case and as a result, some offenders are sentenced too harshly, such as this teen. All crimes and offenders are different and have different circumstances yet mandatory minimums treat them all as equal!! Prison is a negative environment with negative, pro criminal attitudes and behaviours and gangs and drugs and violence are prevalent. This teen should NOT be subject to such an environment when he has no prior record and has never been in trouble with the law. If he is kept in Stony, he will likely only become more entrenched in the criminal lifestyle and become a more hardened criminal. I have so much sympathy for this offender, and also because he is Aboriginal. Prisons are not appropriate sentences for Aboriginal offenders as they offer no culturally sensitive rehab programming which would surround them with their own culture and traditions and teachings. Judges should have the ultimate discretion in deciding upon a sentence especially when there are so many mitigating factors and when the offender is Aboriginal, as their circumstances and experiences and needs are unique. 

This offender should have been sentenced to probation or a conditional sentence with rehab programs for emotion management and stress management and violence prevention. 

I sure hope he gets transferred to Rockwood, as minimum security is better than Stony and offers more freedom and opportunities.  


  1. I think mandatory sentencing is a practice that shouldn't be allowed. All circumstances in a case should be considering when deciding on the sentence. For instance, if someone was provoked into committing an act of violence under mitigating circumstances, he or she shouldn't receive as much time as someone who entered into the act voluntarily with pre-meditation. It's simply not fair to not consider all of the factors of the case. Were drugs or alcohol involved? Was there pre-mediation? Was there provocation? Was a crime of passion? Was it a hate crime?

    However, with that being said. A system of indeterminate sentencing could be a double edged sword. In the US, it is up to each state to determine what kind of sentencing its courts will use. In my home state, we have indeterminate sentencing. It is where the judge takes all factors of the case in accordance with some very basic sentencing guidelines and determines the sentence. The bad thing about this system is that it is SOLELY up to the judge who is only human. If he or she is having a bad day, that could be very bad news for the person being sentenced. Also, there could be other motives that have nothing to do with the person or the case at had that would make a judge sway one or the other. The judge is only human.

    Sentencing of criminals is a very difficult issue. Some people are sent to prisons unnecessarily and come out as hardened criminals who will simply end up right back in prison. If a person's crime and actions do not call for prison, then they shouldn't be there. Prisons are a breeding ground for illegal activities and creating lifetime criminals.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I completely agree with you that all circumstances should be allowed to be considered by the Judge. Only the most dangerous offenders, such as those on Criminal Minds! should be sentenced to prison. If an alternative sanction is available and will accomplish the same purpose, then it should be used as opposed to prison. Prison should be a last resort and not over-relied upon.

  3. I also agree since this person was 2 years under house arrest before his case was brought forth and was sentenced.time under hose arrest should have counted for something.2 years in a trailor with no running water and eight miles from nearest neibour.

  4. Dave Hobden (stepfather)June 6, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    You know this young man is sittin in stony scared out of his wits. He is a very timid young man that had something very bad happened and he wishes it never did.I know because he spent 2 years under house arrest in my custody. We live in a trailor with no running water. Being the youg lad he is I know he suffered from boredom and I heard over and over and over how he wished that didnt happened. But it did. I think that 2 years house arrest should count for something and I wish I knew someone I could talk to. I am not saying he should just walk away with no punishment but I think anger management and rehab programs would have been sufficent. I am worried too that his life will be ruined forever because of mandatory sentencing. The government dont evan know this person as the judge that leonord went in front of almost every month for the last 2 years. He had 2 years to prove himself to everyone that this what happened would never happen again but that proof went unnoticed. If there is someone that knows how to get the government to look at this particular case I would greatly appreciate it Thanks in advance

  5. I have a lot of sympathy for the teen in the article. That house arrest should definitely count for something. I completely agree with you, regarding anger management and rehabilitation. I completely disagree with mandatory sentencing and I know how you feel. It is unfair. I do not know of any government agencies that would be of assistance to you.. but if I come upon one, I will pose a comment here. I wish you luck with your situation.

    Thanks for the comment!