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.