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.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gage Guimond's aunt shouldn't be jailed

Family and friends of two-year-old Gage Guimond certainly have the right to lash out at Judge Lee Ann Martin’s decision Tuesday that his great aunt Shirley Guimond will not go to jail after the child died while in her custody.

They’ve lost a child. No punishment in the world is going to be tough enough for them.
Gage and his three-old sister had been in the custody of Sagkeeng Child and Family Services before they were placed in Shirley Guimond’s care in June 2007. Just one month later Gage was placed in a backless high chair adjacent to the basement stairs while Shirley Guimond took three other children to the washroom. When she returned Gage had fallen down the stairs and was critically injured. She called 911 immediately but Gage died a few days later.

Shirley Guimond pleaded guilty last November to failing to provide the necessaries of life.
The judge ruled Tuesday she will serve an 18-month conditional sentence in the community. This includes an absolute curfew for the first year and a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the remaining six months. Her sentence is to be followed by three years of supervised probation.

A child died so it’s a serious case. Guimond is paying for it. She got time just not in a jail or prison. The Crown and defence both agreed on the length of the sentence but citing precedents in other cases, the Crown argued she should go back to jail. She’s already served time for an assault causing bodily harm charge.
But is throwing her in jail again the proper penalty considering the facts of the case?
Clearly it’s not.
Consider this case last year.
Young mother Michelle Camire, 27, momentarily “lost it” and angrily threw her three-month-old into a padded bassinet, fracturing his skull. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got the same sentence. Camire’s actions were far more serious than Guimond’s and yet she got the same punishment. That alone is proof enough.
At Shirley Guimond’s sentencing hearing in April her lawyer argued this was a “momentary lapse, not a lengthy one.” He also argued the child welfare system should be on trial with her.
He said the CFS had “foisted” little Gage on to his great aunt for “political” reasons.
He’s right. She tried to return he and his sister but CFS wouldn’t remove them so the province must share a good deal of the blame for this boy’s death.
We must be cautious not to let our hearts, instead of our heads, take over in this unfortunate case. A woman made a grave error and a child fell down a flight of steps.
A lengthy jail term is inappropriate for this series of events.

I completely agree. Jail time would serve no purpose for this woman. This was a mistake which could happen to anybody. Her actions after the accident, show that she is a caring person as she called 911 and tried to revive the child. Jail should always be a last resort and should be reserved for those who pose a real danger to society. This woman does not fit that criteria. Therefore, I completely agree with a conditional sentence and probation.

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