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.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Husband, father of three appeals impaired driving charge -- Wants reduced sentence

A 42-year-old Winnipeg man convicted of a drunk driving collision that killed 63-year-old grandmother Elaine Stoller is fighting to cut his six-year prison sentence in half.
In a hearing Friday before the Manitoba Court of Appeal, Hugo Ruizfuentes argued the sentencing judge placed too much emphasis on his prior driving record and too little on his clean criminal record.
"He is a good man who did a horrible thing," said defence lawyer Mike Cook, who urged the appeal court to reduce his client's sentence to as little as three years, minus double credit for nine months served.
Cook also argued Judge Mary Kate Harvie placed little weight on his client's guilty plea.
"If he had tried the matter it probably would have dragged through the system another two or three years," Cook said.
Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft said Harvie committed no error in law and the sentence should stand. Vanderhooft rejected Cook's "good man" argument, which is commonly cited in drunk driving cases.
"In my view the time has come to stop treating impaired drivers like they are not criminals," Vanderhooft said.
Stoller was driving south on Waverley Street at Grant Avenue just before 10 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2008, when Ruizfuentes blew through a red light -- the third in a row -- and smashed into the driver's side of her 2003 Pontiac Vibe.
Stoller was rushed to hospital, where she died about an hour later from massive head and internal injuries.
At the time of the collision, Ruizfuentes had 11 prior convictions under the Highway Traffic Act, including multiple convictions for running red lights and stop signs, and driving without a licence.
Harvie sentenced Ruizfuentes last September to six years in prison, one year longer than recommended by prosecutors. Harvie said she had no doubt Ruizfuentes was remorseful for the crash but his lengthy record of flouting traffic laws demanded a stiff prison sentence.
Ruizfuentes was "anything but a first-time offender" and showed "a pattern of disregard for the rules of the road," Harvie said.
The appeal court reserved its decision.

A Winnipeg man claims he has been unfairly punished for a drunk driving crash that killed an innocent motorist.
Hugo Sergio Ruizfuentes, 42, appeared before the Manitoba Court of Appeal Friday seeking to overturn the six-year penalty he received last fall. Defence lawyer Mike Cook said his client should have been given between three and four years behind bars.
"Parity with other sentences in other cases demands his sentence be reduced," Cook told the Free Press.
Elaine Stoller, 63, was killed in December 2008 while driving through the intersection of Grant Avenue and Waverley Street. A witness told police Ruizfuentes ran three consecutive red lights and was speeding before hitting Stoller’s vehicle, which had the right of way. Police tested Ruizfuentes three hours after the crash and found his blood-alcohol content was .12, 50 per cent higher than the legal limit of .08.

Ruizfuentes, a married father of three, didn’t fight the case at trial and pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death. He had no prior criminal record but several previous driving infractions which were cited by the judge.

Cook argued Friday the judge "overemphasized" his client’s Highway Traffic Act record while not giving him enough credit for quickly admitting responsibility, showing remorse and wanting to use the tragedy as a teaching tool for others. Ruizfuentes has already approached Mothers Against Drunk Drivers about doing a series of talks to young drivers about the deadly mistake he made.

"Who better to speak than a man who’s been through this?" said Cook. He called Ruizfuentes a "good man who did a horrible thing."
Stoller was a beloved mother, grandmother and community figure who founded the Women’s Endowment Fund of The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. She was on her way home from work and just days away from a Mexican vacation when she was killed.
The Crown asked for a five-year sentence last year, but Associate Chief Judge Mary Kate Harvie took the unusual step of going even higher. She also banned Ruizfuentes from driving for 15 years. Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft argued Friday that no mistakes were made by Harvie and the penalty should stand. The appeal court has reserved its decision.

I definitely believe this article is biased to one side. It is inflammatory to those posters who always talk about how horrible our justice system is for letting this man appeal. What the article does not mention, is that this man has a right to an appeal. It also does not spend much time discussing the mitigating factors here and only briefly mentions that this offender has a family. There could have been a different slant such as "family man over-served" instead of "drunk driver who killed woman." It places too little emphasis on his family and the mitigating factors. I would also like to know the circumstances leading up to crash. Was he at a party? Does he have an alcohol addiction? 

I agree with Mike Cook that this sentence should definitely be reduced! 6 years is too harsh. I believe this man should receive 3 years in prison, because he does pose some danger to society. He should take substance abuse counseling and talk to young drivers through MADD. I feel sorry for him, because he has children and is married. Families of offenders are the hidden victims of incarceration and they also suffer. 3 years is much more appropriate considering this man has no prior criminal record, showed remorse and admitted responsibility. There is no purpose to imprison him longer, other than revenge. Most other individuals charged with this same offence are imprisoned for much shorter periods. 

The sentence should be reduced. He does pose some danger to society, but not enough to be imprisoned for 6 years! 3 years would be much more appropriate considering he has a family, showed remorse, has no prior criminal record, admitted responsibility and has offered to speak to young drivers. The Judge should have placed more emphasis on these mitigating factors. If you look at precedents for this charge, very few are near the 6 year mark. Most are lower, and that's why this sentence should be reduced.

People who kill while drunk behind the wheel should serve longer sentences, but they should also be able to apply for early parole in certain situations. Jail is not about punishment, it is about rehabilitation. If they are doing good in the programs they take part in(Alcoholic's Anonymous, Therapy, etc.), and show remorse and guilt over what they have done, then they deserve the chance to see the light of day again.

A person who has killed while driving drunk did not kill intentionally. Yes they did make the choice to drive drunk, but that does not mean they are a murderer.

Condolences to the family of the victim.

Longer prison sentences do not accomplish deterrence and they often increase the chances of re-offending and decrease the likelihood of successful reintegration. There were many mitigating factors in this case and I do not believe enough emphasis was placed on them.

Longer sentences do not accomplish deterrence. It's been proven, as most offenders are not rational, but impulsive and even if they are rational, do not consider the prospect of prison or the consequences of their actions.

"longer sentences do not act as a deterrence.
years ago many people used to drive drunk. Thats just the way it was. Believe me, many people today don't because 1. Education of drunk driving 2. They don't want to go to jail. Even if it isn't a deterrant to others, at least we know for the next 6 years this guy won't be running someone over.
I think they should add something more to the sentence. All of his assets (yes even his family home) should be sold and the money given to the family of the deceast lady. Yes, his family will suffer, but not nearly as much as the family who had a loved one stolen from her."

Actually you are wrong on this one. Longer sentences do NOT act as a deterrent for the majority of people. I suggest that you read some research papers on the subject of rational choice theory and deterrence and also some scholarly journal articles. Please educate yourself, if you have not done so yet. Most potential criminals are impulsive in their actions and do not consider the prospect of prison. I am sickened that you would want to take items and assets from this man's INNOCENT family and children! Do you not believe in human rights?! That is completely unfair and cruel! It is not their fault that their husband/father killed somebody and they do NOT deserve to be punished for anything! They are the hidden victims of incarceration. It must be terribly difficult for the children/wife, not being able to see their father/husband. I feel sorry for them, and for the offender. Where is your compassion?!  

"He should get the maximum! In this day & age people are still drinking and driving!?!?!? No excuses . . . and he can be as sorry as he wants now - sorry he got caught - that won't bring back an innocent, valuable member of society. His bad decision - pay the price!! Suck it up like a man!! @ Brittanymaria - mitigating factors??? He should have thought of all those before getting behind the wheel of the car intoxicated!"

I cannot believe how vengeful you are. If you advocate for the maximum sentences, maybe you shouldn't live in Canada. It's likely not going to happen, because unlike many other countries, we are civilized! If you have such a deep set need for revenge, move to Texas! Clearly, you have done little research and/or lack understanding of the psychology of criminals' behaviour and the concept of deterrence. The majority of criminals are impulsive, not rational, before they commit  a crime. They do not think about the consequences of their actions or the possibility of imprisonment. Especially with impaired driving. Under the influence, your judgment and rationality are significantly altered. We do not know what events led up to this man's actions of impaired driving, because it was not reported. There are many things we do not know, therefore, we cannot speculate.  

"@Brittanymaria, I read alot of your comments that you post on this website, always having to do with criminals, and their rights. You seem to always be on the criminals side. Why don't you take 5 minutes, sit down and really think about who you are defending.... Now think if this was your mother who was driving home and was killed by this drunk driver ( who clearly made a choice to drive while being drunk) Would your comments be the same as they are now???? Give your head a shake and take a step into reality!!!"

I support and advocate for more prisoners' rights. Criminals are humans too and they deserve to have their rights upheld and respected, like any other human being. Yes, they harmed society in one way or another, but they are often of marginalized status and it is often situational circumstances and other contributing factors that cause crime. I want to help people in these situations, to uncover and address the root causes of one's criminal behaviour, in order to hopefully help them become productive members of society one day. I have compassion and sympathy for all people in these situations, regardless of if they have committed a crime or not. I do not discriminate and you shouldn't either. If the victim was known to me, of course I have an emotional response, but my reason and logic would then kick in. My morals, values and beliefs are not going to change.  

"I think he should do his time but why punish his wife and children. They are struggling enough and you think they should be homeless as well. They had as much control over his actions as you did- none!"

"Wanting your sentence reduced because you're sorry? What is he sorry for? Getting caught? Getting 6 years?

As I tell my kids - sometimes sorry isn't enough and you have to pay the consequences.

He has a history of driving offences, blew through 3 red lights and then goes through a fourth, while speeding, and kills someone. Plus, he was STILL .12 3 hours after the fact? This is a case of an addict who didn't care about anything but his booze. He is the poster boy for why we have such strict drinking and driving laws!

I prefer to see the precedent set for 6 years, rather than a precedent set for boo-hooing to the court that you're sorry and will talk to kids. I've been at those 'talks' and can attest to the fact that they are not very effective. With a 6 year sentence he could be out in 2 with good behaviour. Considering he could have been given 14, he should be thanking his lucky stars.

It's about time Judges in this Province started imposing harsher sentences for drunk drivers that kill. They choose to drink. They choose to drive. Therefore, they choose to kill.

He deserves the sentence he got. It's still only 6 years for an innocent life."

If you kill someone while driving impaired, you do not choose to kill. It is not intentional. Under the influence, your state of mind and judgment are severely altered. This is why this driver could not have been charged with murder, because he would not have fulfilled the state of mind required for those offences, which is intent. The offence of impaired driving cause death, does not require intent.

"Who cares why he did it?" 

Who cares why? We should care why, if we are interested in preventing future crime! If you have no interest in crime prevention or reduction, then you can say "who cares." But I think everybody is interested in the idea of preventing future crimes. In order to do so, we must be aware of the root causes of a person's criminal behaviour and other contributing factors, in order to address them for the individual involved in the criminal activity and for the individuals in society who are at-risk for engaging in the same behaviour.

"If you truly believe your statement that: "as most offenders are not rational, but impulsive and even if they are rational, do not consider the prospect of prison or the consequences of their actions."

Then it up to the courts to protect us, the rest of society, from these people who can not control themselves, therefore a longer sentence is warranted. If they can't stop themselves, then the punishment must.

Or would you prefer he be out next week driving down your street, speeding and running lights, since you say he can't control himself and doesn't care about the consequences of his actions?

I knew Elaine Stoller, and her family, this [edited] criminal should never see the light of day in my opinion, but I'm not the judge, and neither are you Brittanymaria, but thank goodness for that.

There is an old expression, don't do the crime, if you can't do the time, Brittanymaria seems to think do the crime, as we won't give you much time."

There are times when all humans in society cannot control our actions. Do you think we should all be imprisoned? Prison should only be warranted for those few individuals who pose a great danger to the safety of society and therefore, need to be institutionalized, such as psychopaths and serial killers. Punishment in prison does not address the root causes of crime and the factors surrounding why a certain individual cannot control their actions. They will be released someday, with the same problem. From your words, you sound as if you are only seeking revenge against this man. You should research the term "forgiveness" or "restorative justice." I may not be a Judge yet, but at least I have more reason, rationale and logic than you appear to have. You are only responding emotionally and your answers are not evidence-based. Longer sentences have been proven to be ineffective in many regards. Our justice system is not based on revenge, it is based on rehabilitation and reintegration and considering the least restrictive option in sentencing. You are right, "do the crime, do the time" is an old expression, which is why it does not work in today's more modern and civilized society. Back in those days, the psychology of criminal behaviour was not understood. You need to realize that two wrongs don't make a right. Revenge is never moral or ethical.

"Believe me... When something happens to you or a loved one.... and the criminal who caused your pain gets a slap on the wrist, and let loose.... Your beliefs will change... That is the only way you will realize how the justice system has really failed us all... and that the criminals who get away with murder and other major offences should no longer have any rights. Like many others have stated... " You do the crime, you do the time"

No, i honestly believe that my beliefs and values would not change. Sure if I was a victim of a crime, I would feel an initial emotional response, but I believe my logic, reason, and knowledge would eventually overtake that. I would definitely never advocate for longer, harsher sentences or anything which resembled revenge. I do not believe a community-based sentence is a "slap on the wrist." Working to improve/rehabilitate oneself, is much harder work than sitting in a prison cell, in my opinion and I would rather have criminals working to improve themselves than sitting in prison. I cannot believe you advocate for less rights for someone, just because they have a criminal past! Talk about discrimination! Regardless of whether you like it or not, everybody retains their basic human rights, and deserves to, whether they have committed a crime or not. That is only humane, civilized and fair. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms do not discriminate. "You do the crime, you do the time" is an old statement and was suggested before anybody really had any insight and knowledge into the psychology of criminals' behaviour. That statement is pure revenge and should have no place in a modern and civilized society, such as ours today. Things change. Society changes. People change. Statements also need to change with the times. Also, two wrongs don't make a right? Ever heard that statement? You should adopt that one instead!

Longer prison sentences don't make the public safer. Known fact to anyone who studies sociology/criminology, but most voters follow emotions rather than logic, research, or reason.

"You sound just as sincere as those criminals you defend who parrot their great remorse from statements composed for them by their lawyers in order to arouse sympathy for themselves and overshadow that of their victims.

Of all the litany of compassions you extolled for yourself you never once mentioned Elaine Stoller and her family. Now thats what I call TRUE compassion! NOT!"

I do have sympathy for the victim's family and it is definitely horrible what happened. But I also have sympathy for the offender, who also has a family and they are the hidden victims of incarceration. Offenders' families suffer from loss of contact, communication and often financial difficulties. I am a truly compassionate person, but I choose to help the offenders because there are few organizations/groups who support and assist them and fight for their rights to be upheld. I want to help the marginalized in society and that includes criminals.

pretty one sided article that appeals to posters ( just my opinion based on reading them )

he is entitled to an appeal and you have twisted the lawyers words to incite them

i believe that there could be a totally different slant to this story - "family man over-served - etc" and the opinions would be different

how many of the posters know the facts or are educated as a judge is - to know the rules ?

please take a higher road in your reporting.

"why do you LOVE criminals so much? ELAINE had a family, too....but you know what? They get to "visit" her in a CEMETERY. HIS family can still SEE him...he WILL get out one day....ELAINE never will....she will ALWAYS BE DEAD!"
I have compassion and sympathy for all people in difficult situations and circumstances. Of course I feel horrible for the victims' family and it must be terrible to lose a loved one. But I also have sympathy for the offender and his family, who are the hidden victims of incarceration. We need to care about the marginalized individuals in society, regardless of their criminal background. If we want to prevent and reduce crime, we need to invest in the rehabilitation, improvement and reintegration of criminals, so they can someday become productive members of society. It is in our best interests, as a community. That is why I care. 

I think the MADD should use people like this to make presentations at schools as well as AAA meetings. Especially if they had no prior history and are willing to do it. It would be a positive learning experience for students and for him. Who better to describe what drinking and killing someone can do to all families involved, as well as the financial hardships involved. I suggested that to MADD several years ago, and they completely ignored me.

"If you look at precedents for this charge, very few are near the 6 year mark. Most are lower and that's why this sentence should be reduced." ????

That's the most ridiculous reason ever. Just because one idiot judge may start a precedent the rest should follow? How about the precedents going in the other direction? There are many of those all over the country as well. And how about a judge's discretion and the varying circumstances of each individual case? Hopefully this case will start a higher precedent for Manitoba which has slipped into total disrepute as far as justice is concerned!

Actually one of the main reasons the government has been looking at tougher crime laws is because this ridiculous idea of precedents has been abused by the judges and even some of the crown attorneys. The Harvey-Zenk fiasco is a case in point.

I am not sure why you are advocating for longer and harsher prison sentences. Clearly, you only seek revenge on this offender. Research shows that longer sentences do not increase public safety. In fact, they increase the chances of an offender re-offending! That is NOT in our best interests. Judges need to make decisions not based on emotion, but based on logic, reason and research. 

Drunk drivers are killers. They should get the same sentences as murders. LIFE!! They know it is ILLEGAL to get behind the wheel, but yet they still do. There is no differece, they might have well have just bought a gun and shot someone. Charges should be: if there is a death you get life in prison. No death they should still be charged with attempted murder. Enough is enough!

Drunk drivers cannot form the required intent needed for a murder conviction, because their judgment and reason are impaired. Therefore, they cannot receive the same sentence as a murderer. Clearly, you lack understanding and knowledge regarding Canadian criminal law and the legal elements required for each charge in the Criminal Code. Please educate yourself! 

Dont do the crime if you can't do the time.
The problem with the statement "do the crime, do the time" is, that it fails to account for the fact that most criminals are not rational in their decision making, but impulsive. Therefore, they do not consider the consequences of their actions or the possibility of imprisonment. That statement is also based on revenge, which is not appropriate in modern day criminal justice systems, in civilized societies. I am currently a criminal justice student who would love to be a defence lawyer, because I feel a desire to assist and support the marginalized individuals in society. 

I would rather listen to the VICTIMS (family, someone who survived being hit by one, etc.) of a drunk driver than the DRUNK DRIVER. Who gives two $hits what a drunk has to say?
debbadoo said: "Who gives two $hits what a drunk has to say?"

That's pretty harsh, isn't it? Do we know ANYthing about this guy other than what happened during one night of his life? Maybe he rarely drinks, and didn't realise how much he'd had..? We've all made mistakes. Yes, this was a HUGE mistake, but he was a first-time offender. I say why waste jail space and tax-dollars for 6 years purely out of vengance?

Every human on earth has to die at some time. Some of us are lucky and others aren't. I've lost many close relatives and friends both to illness and trauma. As much as it hurts, I can't say they should still be here... Who knows why they were called home?

Who cares what a drunk driver has to say? I think that is pretty harsh of you to say such a thing. I think it's a positive step for him to have the desire to speak with young drivers. It is a step in the right direction for this offender. This man does not deserve 6 years in prison. That is purely revenge, not justice. 

I looked at the Criminal Code to see what the maximum penalty was for impaired driving causing death. Life! Then why on earth has a precendent been set for a measly 3-4 years?

The judge in this case must have taken into account Ruizfuentes' previous driving offences (whatever they were) to up the sentence beyond what even the Crown requested and impose a 15-year driving ban. Hopefully the appeal court will uphold her decision.

No mistake was made on the part of the drunk driver, just a conscious decision to not drive sober. A decision that resulted in an innocent woman's gruesome death.

I agree with debbadoo, who cares what a drunk driver thinks? Yes everyone has to die at sometime, but why the hell does it have to be at the hands of an irresponsible, unintelligent person like Hugo? And 'sigh' you say you've lost many family and friends to illness, how much would you love to see those illnesses wiped from the Earth forever? What's the difference between those illnesses and Hugo Ruizfuentes? 

We should care what an impaired driver thinks and we should care that at least this man wants to improve himself! We should support him in his desire to speak to young drivers about the dangers of impaired driving. We should support and assist this offender in his rehabilitation and self-improvement.

I think the biggest difference between you and I is the fact that I don't believe Mr. Ruizfuentes is genuine, maybe I'm just cynical but I think he is just trying to get out of a real punishment by showing "remorse". Anyone who made a conscious decision to not drive sober does not care about others, or what he might do to his wife and three kids, he cares solely about himself, and getting home easier.

This "man" should lose the privilege of driving and the privilege of alcohol until Elaine Stoller gets better, and I say keep him locked up until she does. Not for revenge, but to make things fair.

I understand what you are saying, but I disagree with you. We do not know the events which led up to this horrible accident, but there could have been many situational influences, which we cannot speculate upon. 

Clearly you have NEVER lost someone to a drunk driver. The guy that killed my husband was a repeat offender, and was let out of jail 8 months before the accident. So yeah I believe that they should be charged as murders (lock them up and throw away the key)! I don't need to "educate" on Canada criminal law. It is MY opinion!

I am not a "killer lover." I prefer to be called a compassionate person who has a desire to support and assist the marginalized individuals in society, regardless of their criminal background. I do not discriminate. Even if I was a victim of a crime, my beliefs and values will not change. I believe that all people can and do change and I am optimistic about human nature. I understand that you want revenge, but drunk drivers cannot be charged with murder, because their judgment and reason are impaired and therefore; they cannot form the required state of mind which is intent. You are only seeking revenge and a shift back to draconian style justice. I am sorry to inform you that in civilized societies, we have come to the realization that draconian style justice, is completely ineffective. Thank God our justice system is not based on revenge! It is based on what is in society's best interests, and the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders so they can hopefully return to society one day as productive members.

You are being ignorant by not educating yourself about criminal law and criminal justice issues. You could advance your opinion much more if you had some understanding and knowledge about our justice system.. 

all victims are hidden if you wish to put it that way. They are not exposed to any rights whatsoever. They are completely ignored by the Legal System. They are hidden under that proverbial carpet that they are continously being swept under.

Then you say that you "choose to help the offenders because there are few organizations/groups who support or assist them and fight for their rights to be upheld."

Well, I can name a few without even thinking about it. The John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Societies, not to mention Legal Aid and the infamous Charter of Inhuman Rights. Can you name even ONE organization that supports, assists and fights for the rights of the victims to be upheld?

I am not sure where you get the idea that victims have no rights.. because all humans are entitled to their rights and freedoms under the Charter. They are not ignored. They are allowed to make victim impact statements and there are many organizations such as MOVA, who assist and support victims. But their opinions cannot be considered in the sentencing and parole board decision making processes, because often, they are only seeking revenge and our justice system is not based on revenge. I believe that the majority of offenders are marginalized individuals in our society and often come from impoverished backgrounds. They need support and assistance also and we need more organizations and groups to help them.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, all humans are entitled to their rights and freedoms under the Charter. The Charter does not discriminate based on criminal background. If you don't like it, don't live in Canada or any other civilized country for that matter! If you don't agree with human rights, go live in Iraq or some other 3rd world country. See how you like it there.

There are many organizations that support and assist victims. Here's one for you: MOVA.

Your say we live in a "more modern and civilized society."

Then why do people still commit such barbaric acts as Mr. Ruizfuentes?
Since you don't seem to be able to grasp the concept, I'll tell you why, there are still people in our society who have no regards for anyone other than themselves, and that is a pathological disorder that the chances of rehabilitating are slim at best.

Elaine Stoller is not here to receive forgiveness from Mr. Ruizfuentes, and there is nothing Mr. Ruizfuentes can to restore the Stoller family to the second before his truck stuck Elaine Stoller's car. So your belief in "forgiveness" and "restorative justice" does not fit in this crime. You give no argument how those could benefit society or the victim and her family.

Revenge may never ethical or moral, but Mr. Ruizfuentes has shown by his actions that he is lacking in ethics and morals, and that is why he should remain incarcerated for a long time.

By the way Brittanymaria, I have studied logic; ethics; philosophy; psychology; law; and politics; and I am willing to wager I have more life experiences than you. So I feel qualified to be as dismissive of you, as you have of been of me. (tit for tat)

I will stand by this argument and say that the sooner Mr. Ruizfuentes is released, the sooner society will be in danger, and the only person to benefit from early release would be Mr. Ruizfuentes himself.

His state of mind and judgement may have been altered, but he should still have known not to get into a car a drive after he had very obviously been drinkiing heavily. Im sure like myself, many people here have been very intoxicated and knew that driving was not an option. Regardless, in the day and age, if you think its alright for you to be that drunk and drive, you deserve every day in prision you get. I almost think he should do longer.. People who drink and drive and put other peoples lives at risk like that, dont deserve any sympathy.

I said that our justice system is civilized and more modern, not the individuals in society. I do believe that most individuals can be rehabilitated and can change. Restorative justice for the family of the victim could be very beneficial. Clearly, you have no optimism for human nature or for change, which is quite sad.

"Victims are not ignored. They are allowed to make victims Impact statements."

Yes victims are allowed to make Victims Impact Statements but to what purpose?? Tell us because those statements are just pacifiers to PRETEND that victims are given rights. In fact they are given NOTHING because those statements are censored so they cannot even say what they wish to in regards to the true impact the crime has had on them.

The statements within the legislation about Victims Impact Statements claim that their purpose is "to speak to sentencing". But, as you yourself stated their opinions cannot be considered in sentencing and parole board decision making processes, so then what is their purpose?

They are in fact just a fraud to make the public in general think that victims are given some rights. They are given absolutely NO RIGHTS as victims. The charter provides them rights IF they commit a crime. Therefore the charter is really a charter for criminal rights.

And as far as leaving this country if I don't like it-----I would much rather expose frauds like yourself and attempt to change our country for the better before it is totally destroyed by criminals.

The purpose of victim impact statements is to provide the victim with the opportunity to speak to the offender about the impact their crime has had upon them. Their views and opinions regarding sentencing and parole board decisions should not be considered as most often, they are only seeking revenge. I have no idea what you are talking about.. because as far as I know, everybody is entitled to their rights and freedoms under the Charter. Not just criminals.

You don't know what anyone is talking about because you're to full of yourself. You have opinions based on some studies you've been taking. That doesn't mean your opinions are correct. They are biased because they are based on those biased studies that show concern only for criminals, and totally ignore victims.

You forget or just don't care that the harm done by the criminal is done to their victims. It's certainly no harm done to defence lawyers or judges or criminal advocates, in fact, it is a benefit to them as that is their entire career.

Who else is more qualified to declare a fair sentence than the person/persons most hurt by the crime. If that is revenge---so-be-it.--- It is also JUSTICE which implies FAIRNESS. For a sentence to be fair, it must FIT the crime. And being FAIR involves FEELING. Those who argue cold objectivity are in fact discriminating in reverse.

Also, those of us that promote stronger sentences for serious crimes usually have no objection to rehabilition or programs to find the root of problems. But, a person can only be rehabilitated if they want to be rehabilitated. And such efforts cannot do away with the need for retribution now.

This immediate need for retribution can be compared to cases of rabies in animals. It is a good thing to try and find a cure for the rabies, but in the meantime the infected animals must be done away with or they infect and destroy everything they come in contact with.

My opinions are strong and developed. And they are not based on "a few studies," they are based on extensive research and studies. Sorry to inform you that research studies are not biased. If they were, they would not be published. They are only allowed to state the facts which were discovered. And what are your opinions based on??

I believe I already stated previously that I have sympathy for the victims of crime. Victims are NOT fit to declare an appropriate sentence, because they are not aware of the many sentencing principles/mitigating and aggravating factors which must be considered and they are most times, only seeking revenge, which is not acceptable in our justice system. Revenge is different than justice. Sentences do not always have to fit the crime, but also the offender. Proportionality of the crime and sentence is only a portion of the Rational Choice Theory which was adopted by our justice system. The problem with that is, that most offenders are not rational, but impulsive. Objectivity does not and should not involve emotion. It then becomes subjective.

"Restorative justice for the family of the victim could be very beneficial. "

As I've previously said, nothing the criminal could do could restore the Stoller family to the point prior to his criminal act. You have not and can not provide me any facts as to how restorive justice could benefit the Stoller family. And I continue to use the name of the Stoller family as they are truly victims of this crime, and that must not be forgotten.

I feel sad for you Brittanymaria, you are trapped in your delusional utopian view that "most individuals can be rehabilitated and can change" when the criminal in this case has a record of violating the law that from other reports was "an arm long." The only time he has expressed regret is when he was caught and when he faced sentencing. As to his expression of remorse, I truly doubt it is sincere, as actions speak louder than words, his past record indicates, as I've pointed out previously, that he only cares about himself, not his family, not other persons in society, and certainly not Elaine Stoller.

I can only hope that Brittanymaria never gets into a position of power to enact her foolish and dangerous ideas. And I believe a majority of the other posters here would agree with me on that.

Do some research on restorative justice and you will find that many victims of crimes feel a sense of peace and justice after participating. Whether you listen to the evidence or disregard it, restorative justice has proven to be beneficial to those involved. I am not delusional. I am trying to be realistic and state what methods of justice have been proven in research, to be effective. Whether you agree or disagree, rehabilitation DOES work for many individuals. We need to place MORE emphasis on addressing the root causes of crime and provide assistance and support to offenders. I plan on becoming a defence lawyer someday, or have some position in government, so your plan will not work! The majority of the public in my opinion, regarding crime and justice issues, have been misled by Stephen Harper's "tough on crime" spiel and how the public will be better protected. You are delusional and brainwashed in my opinion. Imprisoning more people for longer periods does not make society any safer. Anyone stupid/ignorant enough to believe Harper's lies, should educate themselves by reading research papers!

You are delusional and brainwashed in my opinion too.

I am not going to go read your liberal researchers' results, I ask you again to provide me a concrete example how restorative justice can help bring benefit to the Stoller family. You can never, ever, replace the void left by the lose of a loved one. The lose is immeasurable, and will never end. The lose of this criminal to his friends and family will have a definite end. You seem to want to weigh the scales of justice in this criminal's favour. I want the scales weighed in favour of the Elaine Stoller family and society as a whole.

Here is a concrete fact for you, for everyday Ruizfuentes spends behind bars is one less day he can kill another innocent person again, that's a fight worth fighting for, not becoming a blind defender of persons like him, which is your stated path in life.

Parting question, will you assist Karla Homolka getting a pardon?
I'm guessing if anybody in the Liberal Canada of Party directed you to do so, you would, as you are such an in-step soldier of the party.
I wouldn't follow the direction of any political party, if asked to do such a heinous thing, as I have a moral compass that points to the doing of what is right.

I am afraid you will do well as a defense council Brittanymaria, you exhibit no soul, no empathy to victims of crime, in your insistence that rehabilitation is the only way for a justice system to operate.

Go to the John Howard Society of Alberta's website and click on Restorative Justice. There, you will find all the information and research you need to understand how RJ is beneficial to victims and helps being them a sense of peace and justice. I definitely support Karla Homolka being granted a pardon. I believe that everybody, regardless of their criminal background, has a right to be pardoned if they can prove that their lives have been crime-free. Karla has served her prison sentence and should therefore, not be further punished or deprived. I believe that people can change. Limiting pardons for individuals, is not beneficial, as that also limits employment, travel, and housing opportunities. The purpose of pardons are to facilitate rehabilitation, successful reintegration and to serve as an incentive. I am not sure where you get the idea that I have no empathy for victims, because I already said that I do. But I also have sympathy for criminals, who are often marginalized individuals in society, who need assistance and support as well.

"Research studies are not biased. If they were they would not be published. They are only allowed to state the facts which were discovered."

Wow, are you in a dream world! There have been many published works proven to be wrong. Many so-called scientific experiments were shown to get the desired results of those conducting them. That is why they came up with double blind experiments. A medical article written in the UK I believe, was just recently shown to be false and the author was being prosecuted. Even History has had to be rewritten on occasion when it was found to be biased. So if you believe it has to be "gospel" just because it is published-----Wow is all I can say.

And in the end result who can prove that falsehoods are published deliberately? The argument is always that the research leaned in that direction. So it is understood (by most) that those publishings are not "gospel". Whether they are followed or not depends solely on who they can convince. Sadly, to many of our so-called justice officials have fallen prey to their bias. So, it is only when the sad results become clear----that we are dealing with more and more crime and criminals----Then laws & precedents in sentencing will change. Such changes are already being attempted.

I base my opinions on what I have seen and experienced. Anyone with half a brain knows that even children will continue to misbehave unless they are held accountable for their bad actions.

I believe that most of research studies are truthful and accurate. Basing your opinions on only experience is not always the best either. You need to have some understanding and knowledge from outside sources. 

I want you to read this article of fact, not a statistical research report (stats are for losers):


From Webster's dictionary,Sympathy: "an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other"

The criminal convicted in the death of Elaine Stoller had no sympathy or empathy for all those around him, his actions affected his family, his friends, but more importantly Elaine Stoller and her family and friends and the rest of society. His actions were heartless, if that's the type of person you want to feel sympathy for and empathy with, then you too must be as heartless as he, again making you a prime candidate for a defense attorney.

Bravo Brittanymaria, you've proven in your own words that your moral worth to be equal to that of Mr. Ruizfuentes, which is near zero. I hope you can find someone to rehabilitate and restore your soul.

By the way, from all accounts, the criminal in this case was not a marginalized individual of society, again, no basis for sympathy or empathy from you or anyone. By the way, rehab of criminals ahead of victims in our justice system was created by the Trudeau Liberal gov't in the 1970s, we've had nearly 40 years of its legacy. You brought up Harper's get tough on crime plan, little of it has been implemented, thanks to gutting of bills by your Liberal Senators.  

First of all, stats aren't for losers. You can learn a lot from looking at stats. How do you know this man wasn't marginalized? Have you met him? We don't need to get tough on crime. Any educated person should realize that. Harper's "tough on crime" approach will only appeal to the uneducated and emotional voters. 

The only reason I state that they deserve to be eligible for parole early is because they are not in the same class as murderers, due to the fact that it was not their intention to hit and kill somebody.

MANSLAUGTER is the killing of another human being unlawfully but without intention. That perfectly described driving drunk and killing someone.

In fact the Maximum Sentence for Impaired Driving causing Death is LIFE. The problem is our justice system has adopted this wishy washy we cannot punish them attitude that is disreputable. When is the last time a Maximum sentence has EVER been given.

I'm sure there has to be at least ONE whose actions would be egregeous enough to warrant the maximum. But, instead they give them conditional sentences or a few months that shows complete disregard for their victim's lives. This sentence was phenomenal in comparison to many others, that is the reason the offender and his lawyer were shocked.

However, I think it is time to "pay the piper" what is due. We definitely need this NEW precedent. This garbage precedent of nil sentencing was new at one time as well. Time to change that!! JUSTICE demands it or else we must change the name to "INJUSTICE" because Justice actually means------ABSOLUTE FAIRNESS!!

"People who kill while drunk behind the wheel should serve longer sentences, but they should also be able to apply for early parole in certain situations"

SAME sentence - "longer sentences" and "early parole". Early parole for a killer? Early parole because they said sorry? Just because someone chose to become an alcoholic and drive drunk until someone dies, then accepts a 12 step program, does not mean he deserves to see the light of day before his victim.

Screw parole, and remorse, and "intent", he knowingly put lives at risk and ended up taking one. Like I've said before, lock him up until his victim gets better.

As for firing a gun down the street, how would you possibly know the shooter has intent to kill or not? Best case scenario is he is doing something life threatening with NO regard to human safety. What if he was drunk? Does he deserve early parole?

"If you propel a 2 or 3 ton vehicle drunkenly/recklessly toward people, you also have every intention of killing."

"MANSLAUGTER is the killing of another human being unlawfully but without intention. That perfectly described driving drunk and killing someone. "

So which is it then? You seem to not be able to make up your mind.

Read that sentence one more time, specifically the last 2 words, "certain situations". Obviously this does not mean every situation. You can't give everyone the same sentence as every scenario will not be the same. Longer sentence(say same maximum for murder), but be able to be eligible for parole earlier than a murderer(say minimum 10 years for parole eligibility). Remember, parole is not automatically granted at the set minimum (hence the words certain situations).

I recall a situation where someone was driving drunk on the highway at night time. This individual went to pass another vehicle and noticed a child walking in the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting this child but struck another whom he did not see walking beside this child on the shoulder, and killed him/her. Yes this drunk driver deserves to be punished, but to say that this driver deserves life in prison is absurd. is why I said certain situations.

- First, I've studied statistics, and worked in a research environment, it is easy to weight a study to suite the desired outcome, the studies you've referenced come from groups with a vested income to have the results support thier continued existence (and funding from government.)
Second, all prior media reports on this criminal (during the pre-trial stage) have pointed out his background that he is not marginalized, even his lawyer says in this article he is "a good man"- more on that later. No I don't know him, but from your unending support of him, I suspect you do, witness your blind support ignorant of facts of the case.
Thirdly, I am an eductated person, I know it is the Liberal introduced legislation that began during the Trudeau era,(and I was old enough to witness the effects since then, something I dare say you can't claim, so I have empirical evidence, you have nothing.) that has lead to the public outrage that exists today (pull your head out of your books long enough to see how society really views the justice system today.) So I say our present system is not working, there is not enough punishment, deterrence, and denunciation, to prevent recidivism, therefore the system needs fixing, and I am willing to give another Federal party a chance to remedy the problem. I repeat, most bills the Conservative Party of Canada has attempted to do to “get tough on crime” have not passed due to continual blocking of bills by your obstructionist Liberals.

I know how society views our justice system and they are way off the mark. We do not need to get tough on crime. Why would we try to emulate the US's justice methods, which have proven to be an expensive failure? What makes us think that it will magically work here? There is NO evidence to say that longer sentencing would reduce or prevent crime or increase public safety. The Conservatives base their policies on gut emotional reactions as opposed to looking to the research on what works. They are not interested in preventing crime. If they were, they would be spending more money on prevention programs, mental illnesses, addictions treatment, reducing poverty, unemployment, etc. Imprisonment is a band aid solution, not a long term solution. I hope you enjoy a less safe society down the road! Because that's all these Conservative bills will create!


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