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.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Woman who stole $230K from employer, jailed: Wrong decision

A Winnipeg woman who cheated her employer of $230,000 has been sentenced to 16 months in jail.
Linda Cousins, 48, previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000.
Cousins was the financial controller for Imperial Flooring when, in 2006, she began processing additional paycheques for herself. In 20 months, Cousins processed more than 65 bogus cheques to herself, one as high as $6,300.

Cousins claimed her crimes were driven by depression and a gambling addiction.
Judge Lynn Stannard said she accepted gambling was a factor in the thefts but did not believe Cousins suffered from a pathological gambling addiction.
“I believe Ms. Cousins gambled initially to attempt to win back the money she had been taking to pay her bills and as the amount of money stolen increased she became more desperate and irrational in her belief that gambling could be the answer to her financial woes,” Stannard said.
Defence lawyer Lisa Labossiere said her client had an abusive upbringing that prompted her to leave home at 15. Financial setbacks left her suicidal and depressed, Labossiere said. That led to gambling and VLT losses of up to $500 a day.
Stannard noted many people in similar circumstances don’t turn to crime.
To date, Cousins has repaid less than $300 to her former employer, $100 less than she spends every month on cigarettes, a court report stated. “It’s very difficult to see this money being paid back in a reasonable amount of time,” Stannard said.

Here is my previous blog post on this case:

I do not believe prison was the appropriate sentence in this case. Prison should not be over-relied upon and should always remain a last resort. All other lesser restrictive sanctions should be considered prior to imprisonment. I believe that only the most dangerous individuals should be held in prison, not the mentally ill, addicts, non-violent, property or drug offenders. This woman is not a danger to society. 

Prison is too harsh of a sentence. She should have been sentenced to a conditional sentence or probation, with restitution to pay back the money she stole, counseling and programming for her gambling addiction, abusive upbringing and depression. These crimes were driven by addiction, need and mental illness not greed. This woman is humiliated, ashamed and has already suffered from "public shaming." Further punishment is not necessary. Prison serves no purpose for this woman, except revenge and retribution, which is unjust. The mentally ill should never be held in prison as prison conditions often worsen mental disorders. Prison will not have any positive impact on this woman's life or assist her in rehabilitation.   

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