I have not found a link for this story I heard on the CBC News yet. Hopefully it will be posted tomorrow. Anyway it was about a Native man who stole 3 bottles of mouthwash when he was drunk. He was, of course, convicted. His lawyer thought that the judge in the case would take into account his background. He was marginalized and disenfranchised and had been an alcoholic since he was sixteen. He had been convicted seventy times for petty crimes over the years. His lawyer argued that he receive a 3-month sentence. The judge sentenced him to a year. A year for the theft of items that did not amount to $20. An appeal court upheld the conviction saying that the trial judge had not erred and that, in fact, she had served the public interest. Great, it is so important to protect us all from mouthwash thieves.

I think the public interest could be better served with a much different plan. What about treatment? Clearly this man needs some help. He needs rehab and a program not a cell and guards. How about some education? He never finished high school because he was kicked out in grade 6. What about some higher education? Maybe some cultural expression could help him connect with his roots. We all know that without culture people do not have roots and stability.

Instead, he will spend a year in jail which will only confirm for him that the world is an unfair place where he does not fit in. We will house him, pay the salaries of the guards who protect us from this dangerous mouthwash thief. Paying for treatment and an education for him would be much less expensive and, in fact, might even prove to be an investment in the future. With treatment, an education and hope this man may be able to become a productive member of society. But sadly we are far more interested in punishing people. I am ashamed to be Canadian today.


2 thoughts on “I am fuming…

  1. Our minimum security prisons have a hugely disproportionate number of young Aboriginal men in their cells. Similar to the U.S., where lopsided numbers of young African-American and Hispanic men fill jails.When young people are placed in a position that is untenable for them, when grinding poverty, addictions, violence, lack of positive role models and lack of educational opportunities shaped their worlds and no help is forthcoming, crime is often seen as the only way out.

    This young man needs treatment. He needs support. What he doesn’t need is to spend another year in jail where he can learn how to be a better petty criminal.

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