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 12, 2010

Man agrees to being labelled as a long term offender

A Winnipeg man who choked his stepdaughter while she was sleeping has agreed to be branded a long-term offender.

Yves Ussak will be monitored in the community under parole-like conditions for 10 years following his release from prison. Any breaches could land him back behind bars. The courts have yet to rule on when Ussak will be released from prison.

Ussak has been in custody since 2006, after he grabbed a knife and began choking the young woman. There was no provocation for the attack, in which the woman briefly went unconscious, woke up, screamed for help, and then ran away. She suffered numerous broken blood vessels in her face and eyes but made a full recovery, court was told.

Police arrested Ussak, who was drunk and couldn't explain why he had attacked his stepdaughter.

Ussak pleaded guilty to aggravated assault but his sentencing hearing has dragged through the courts for more than a year, with several prison and probation officials called to testify. The Crown had originally considered seeking a rare dangerous-offender designation, which would have left Ussak with an indefinite prison term, but dropped that bid once Ussak agreed to the long-term offender designation.

The Crown argues Ussak shouldn't receive the normal double-time credit for the more than four years already served because his criminal history means he wouldn't have been a candidate for early release. The Crown is seeking an additional period of federal custody, which would be followed by the long-term offender designation.

Ussak is expected to ask to be released immediately with a sentence of time in custody when lawyers make closing arguments next week. Ussak's lawyer previously told court his client struggles with an alcohol addiction that sparked his criminal history, which dates back to 1984. Many convictions are for property-related offences, but Ussak has also been convicted of several assaults and has been in and out of jail for much of his adult life.

This article spent very little time dedicated to talking about the mitigating factors, defence lawyer arguments/statements and the accused's background circumstances. 

I would argue that since this man was intoxicated during the commission of the offence, that he could not have formed the required state of mind necessary, under the circumstances. I agree with the long term offender designation, to assist this man and provide support. He has an alcohol addiction and should be required to participate in substance abuse treatment and counseling, upon release from prison.  

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