News came just before noon yesterday that the Hudson teen charged with responsibility for the death of 13-year-old Stevie Reilly for selling her a fatal dose of ecstasy will see no closed custody for his actions in yet another example of a fairly disturbing trend that makes people shake their heads in disgust. Once again, the punishment doesn't fit the crime. As Reilly's mother said yesterday, the verdict is "cartoon justice."
The youth, who pled guilty to a number of less-serious charges after prosecutors dropped the most serious one -- sexual assault of a minor - -- in an effort to get a deal done. And what a deal. The young man, who is facing yet another criminal investigation in the case of a friend's missing wallet, will only get two years of probation, with some conditions, and will be forced to do 150 hours of community service in that time.
Now, that's all well and good, but a young girl is dead, and she's dead because the young man who gave or sold her the drug did so recklessly and with little regard for the consequences.
Consequences. Now there's a word that means next to nothing these days. Run down two girls in the street after drinking in a bar? No problem. Go home, hide the damage to your car and lie about how much you drank. You'll get two years less a day in prison and you'll only serve a small portion of that time, like Carlos Steiner did after he killed Amber Doughty and Dahlia Sinclair in Pointe Claire in 2000. Maybe you want to conspire with your government buddies to steal hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of taxpayers' hard-earned money ( with an unspoken agreement to funnel at least part of it back into Liberal Party coffers through donations ).
No problem. You'll only get a year, maybe 18 months, in prison, whereas if you rob a convenience store and take substantially less money, odds are good you'll get more time in prison, not less, even though the betrayal of public trust is a lot worse in the former than the latter -- ask Paul Coffin or Jean Brault, who will both be heading to jail for their part in the sponsorship scandal, but not for very long.
Last week, Federal Justice Minister Vic Toews tabled two new bills designed to crack down on crime, but neither contained minimum-sentencing requirements, which, unfortunately, is exactly what is needed right now. It's great to say you're going to get tough on crime, but probation, house arrest and community-service edicts are not going to teach our young people that it's not OK to do drugs, that it's not OK to do whatever you want. The only thing they're going to learn is that it's OK to do whatever you want, with no consequences, as long as you apologize afterward. And while judges need some discretion to find the right sentence for the right situation, the option of house arrest for serious, violent crimes should be out of the question.
The Valleyfield judge who is letting this kid roam free on the streets of Hudson ( for now; the family said the kid will be sent to Ontario ) should be ashamed of himself, because the only thing this kid is going to learn from this whole ordeal is don't get caught, because things are the same for him as they've always been. Where are the consequences?
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