• Wednesday , 29 June 2022

Proposed presumptive detention

Dan Albas MP

This week is a non-sitting week for the House of Commons allowing MPs to be back in their ridings to meet with and hear the concerns of local citizens.

One of the challenges in public office is, while some concerns may fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of either local, provincial or the federal government, other concerns overlap and fall under several jurisdictions.

I raise this point because one serious concern that I am hearing about from many communities in our region is prolific criminals and what many are calling our “catch and release” justice system.

Mayor of Kelowna, Colin Basran, as well as Kelowna-West MLA Ben Stewart, have met with me to share information and convey concerns, as have many citizens who are seeking answers to what remains a thorny issue. 

In almost every community, there is a small but very well-known group of offenders that commit serious crimes on a habitual basis.

A recent news article from one community summarizes this situation well:

“A judge granted a prolific offender bail in court on Wednesday afternoon, giving him one more chance to abide by his conditions after being arrested multiple times for allegedly failing to meet them.” 

The offender in question is reported to already have 60 convictions over the past decade.

The police are also extremely frustrated. In some situations, these criminals will again commit crimes within hours of being released while they await trial.

When you hear from victims, it is devastating.

One mobility challenged senior had her motorized scooter stolen from a secure underground garage. It was uninsured and she cannot afford to replace it. This senior has now become literally house bound and her quality of life has deteriorated immensely.

The criminal responsible was caught, charged, and immediately released and is again committing crimes within the community.

At the provincial level the NDP Government has admitted they are aware this is a serious problem but have no ideas how to resolve it.

NDP Attorney General David Eby has announced they will hire “two experts” to come up with ideas on how to take action on this serious problem.

Fortunately in our Conservative Opposition caucus, we have an new Member of Parliament with significant experience in this area.

Frank Caputo, the MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, is a former Crown Prosecutor with experience in corrections who also served as a Law Professor at Thompson Rivers University.

MP Caputo recently tabled Private Members Bill C-274.

When he introduced this legislation, MP Caputo noted that roughly 5 per cent of offenders commit 90 per cent of the crimes occupying police resources. Many of these criminals are committing these crimes while awaiting trial for other crimes. 

Bill C-274 propose to create a “presumptive detention” for those criminals accused of three or more indictable offences with a maximum penalty of five years or more.

This is not a mandatory requirement however it would allow judges more discretion to keep serious criminals in jail where they cannot continue to re-offend.

If a judge felt there was an exceptional reason or circumstance for a habitual offender to be released, they would still have the discretion to do so.

This bill will not resolve all of the challenges our local communities face with crime, however it most certainly could assist local law enforcement in dealing with serious, re-offending criminals. 

I was proud to second Bill C-274 from MP Frank Caputo.

My question this week: do you support this proposed legislation?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 800 665 8711.

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