EDITORIAL: Uneven sentences

Rioting can land you nine months behind bars but other matters may lead to just a slap on the wrist

Canada’s crime rate is at a 30-year low, but despite this good news story, people still feel the justice system is too lax on criminals.

Recent sentencings, like that of shamed senior RCMP officer Monty Robinson, give credence to people’s cries of foul.

For obstructing justice in the hit-and-run death of Orion Hutchinson, he received a small conditional sentence and a temporary curfew.

This is in contrast to the sentencing of the Stanley Cup rioters.

Some young men being sentenced for taking part in the riot are receiving seven to nine months jail time for their part.

This may seem either harsh or just in the eyes of the public.

But in comparison, most child pornography convictions rarely receive jail time. (Editor’s note — See “For The Record” below).

A conditional sentence is the most common sentence for the crime, even if the perpetrator is not just looking at child porn but distributing it.

Convicted pedophiles usually do see the inside of a jail cell, but sentences range and usually aren’t longer than two years — nothing in comparison to the lifetime conviction they have inflicted on their victims.

It is particularly troubling that in this study on crime rates, the offence which saw the largest increase was child pornography, which jumped 40 per cent in 2011 from 2010, say police.

Going hand-in-hand with this are sexual violations against children, which are on the rise as well.

The judicial system doesn’t appear to take sexual crimes against children as seriously as it does rioters or even tax evaders.

A recent sentencing of a Surrey man who went on a house robbing spree put him behind bars for eight years.

The provincial government wanted to send a strong message that those who riot will pay for the crime they committed.

The message was heard loud and clear by our judges who by B.C. judicial standards, are handing down harsh sentences.

If our government can carry that kind of weight and influence with the provincial judicial system in sending a message of deterrence for rioting, can it not send an even stronger message to protect our children from predators?

FOR THE RECORD: In this editorial, it was stated that a conditional sentence is commonly handed down by the courts for a conviction of viewing and/or distributing child pornography. In fact, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits conditional sentences for convictions involving offences for which there is a minimum sentence. Since 2005, the Criminal Code has set minimum prison sentences for accessing and distributing child pornography. The Times apologizes for the error. Furthermore, the editorial did not intend to suggest that government directly influences the judiciary.

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