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, May 17, 2010

Man on crime spree in Winnipeg, sentenced to 14 years in prison. Too harsh?

A Winnipeg man whose string of crimes included robbing a jail chaplain at knifepoint, holding another man hostage and terrorizing two real estate agents has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Raymond Michaud, 50, received credit of nine years for time served, reducing his remaining sentence to five years.
Michaud has spent almost his entire adult life behind bars. All his crimes are driven by his addiction to alcohol, said his lawyer Crystal Antila.
“He realizes he has wasted his life,” Antila told Judge Brent Stewart. “He is very ashamed. He can’t believe this even happened to him and he did this to these people.”
Michaud pleaded guilty to 10 offences including robbery with a weapon, forcible confinement, and breaking and entering.
In March 2005, Michaud and a second man, Ryan Grills, abducted a man who owed them money for a drug debt and threw him in the trunk of their car. Michaud and Grills called the abducted man’s father and arranged a rendezvous east of the city where they would release his son in exchange for the $600 drug debt. The man was released unharmed.

In a second incident, Michaud and Grills, both former inmates of Headingley Correctional Centre, lured the jail chaplain to Grill’s home on the pretext of paying back money he had loaned them. Grills held a gun to the chaplain’s head while Michaud held a knife to his throat before robbing him of his wallet, car keys and bank card.
The victim was driven to a downtown bank machine where he was forced to withdraw $800.

A day later the men called an automobile dealership and arranged for a salesman to pick them up for a test drive at a North End 7-Eleven. Michaud and Grills hijacked the man and his car and then robbed a party supply store and health food store of a small amount of cash.

Later that day the men lured a married couple, both real estate agents, to a North End address on the pretext of wanting to buy a house. After some bogus chit-chat in the couple’s car, Grills put a gun to the man’s head and Michaud held a knife on the woman’s head.

Following a brief struggle during which the woman suffered minor wounds to her hand, the men grabbed her purse and ran off.

Michaud also pleaded guilty to two residential break and enters committed prior to his crime spree with Grills.
Grills, 35, was sentenced in 2007 to 12 years in prison.
Michaud’s road to sentencing was much longer, due in part to the sudden death of the Crown attorney first assigned to prosecute the case. In 2009 the case was further delayed when Michaud abruptly fired his lawyer.

First of all, I have compassion for this man because of his addiction issues. They are the driving force behind all of his crimes. Based on the information in the article, this man definitely has committed a lot of crime and appears to be a danger to society, due to his random attacks. For that reason, I believe a prison sentence is warranted in this case. However, I do not feel 14 years is warranted as that seems too harsh. But with the double time credit in effect, I feel that the remaining 5 years left for this man to serve, is relatively appropriate and fair. I would feel much better about the prison sentence if prison reforms took place and conditions were improved along with more emphasis on rehabilitation and reform, as opposed to the current negative environment and lack of program funding. It would be beneficial for this man to participate in a substance abuse program in prison, and also a community based program when he is released on parole or stat release. 

For many crimes, I feel that substance abuse and addictions issues should be dealt with outside of a prison sentence, however, this man exhibits extreme violence in his random attacks. Some of the attacks, also appeared to be premeditated, which is definitely an aggravating factor. I only hope that this man can receive the help he needs either while in prison or when he is released and that the effects of prison will not have too much of an adverse effect on his life and for his chances of rehabilitation.  

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