I get that the Vancouver Game 7 Stanley Cup Riot perpetrators need to be punished. They terrorized innocent people, wantonly destroyed other peoples’ property, and assaulted people including police. They need to be arrested and charged. They must have their day in court. They must be judged. However, I am getting quite concerned about the vengeance expressed by some politicians and officials.
First off we have the premier of BC Christy Clark pushing to have television cameras in the courtrooms. I am not sure what she is trying to accomplish. If she thinks that we as the public need to see that the accused are being punished I think she wrong. I have not heard a loud outcry from the public thinking that they are going to be punished. In the same breath she is advocating cameras in the courtroom, she is saying we need to speed up the justice system. On this point she is correct. The justice system in this province is immovable just look at the slow pace at which people are being charged with riot related charges. Trying to televise the proceedings will only serve to slow down our already taxed system.
I am also concerned about the talk of minimum sentences for convicted riots. Apparently, when crimes take place during a riot they are viewed as more serious as the acts contribute to the riot itself. I believe the convicted rioters need to be punished. In cases where there is a history of this kind of anti-social behavior perhaps jail time would be warranted. I think the vast majority of the accused will be young people, fueled by drugs and or alcohol, who got caught up in the riot. This does not excuse their behavior but if they have otherwise clean records why would want to send them to jail where they will only learn how to become more criminal. They will be saddled with a criminal record and if Clark has her way, their pictures will be saved on the internet in perpetuity.
Instead I believe those who do not have a criminal record should be consigned to community service, a written apology and restitution. I am not talking about a little community service. Perhaps a group of victims could have some input into the number of hours the convicted rioters would need to serve. Restitution should take the convicted a long time to complete.
Really what needs to happen is the convicted rioters need to have the epiphany that they actually did something wrong. They will not come to this realization in jail. Instead they will become angry and bitter. They need to give back to society. They need to invest themselves in society and their communities so that they can then become productive, civic-minded citizens.