Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Sept. 20, 2004)

In Search of a Topic

  By John Martin

Ever since this column started five years ago, I usually try to provide commentary, insight, and sometimes disgust, with the state of criminal justice in this day and age.  My columns are often prompted by something crime or law-related in the news of a controversial nature that begs dissection.

More often than not, there’s something to that effect taking place when it comes time to sit down and crank out another six hundred words or so.  Judges sentencing killers to house arrest.  “Low risk” parolees walking away from halfway houses and killing for the second time.  You know, that kind of thing.  But not this time. 

I initially thought there was a handful of recent events that warranted comment and analysis, but upon closer inspection, this proved not to be the case.

For instance, I thought I had an easy knock off column with the prison spa day story.  This was the revelation, which Corrections Canada didn’t want you to know about, that part of the rehabilitation program for federal female offenders, including murderers and child abusers, involved access to “Spa Day”.  Inmates could sit back for manicures, pedicures and aromatherapy while sipping herbal tea and listening to a live harp performance.

It seemed like the type of pampering that’s ideal fodder for this column, but then something changed.  I realized that they were essentially just teaching basic hygiene.  Now who could have a problem with that?  Why dump on Corrections Canada just because they’re trying to stress something positive?  I’m all for hygiene.  Hey, I think it’d be great if Michael Moore bathed once in a while, combed his rat-nest hair and trimmed those hairs coming out of all the moles on his face.  Hygiene 101?  Bring it on, I say.

Then I was flipping channels and came across the demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in New York.  The camera caught numerous incidents of the protestors spitting on and trying to punch the delegates going to their convention.  That would make one helluva column, thought I to myself. 

But once again, my enthusiasm waned when I contemplated things a little more.  After all, as liberals keep telling us, the left is committed to tolerance, compassion and respect for others.  So that thing I was saying about spitting and punching people; it never happened.  It couldn’t of.  It must have been conservatives doing the spitting and punching just so everyone would blame it on the left.  Yeah, that’s it.  Everyone knows liberals are into peace and pacifism and all things tolerant.  They’d never act like jack boot thugs and fascists.  There was no way I was going to be duped into smearing those left leaning champions of democracy engaged in peaceful and lawful protest. 

Well, two non-columns and I was getting a bit nervous.  Deadlines and stuff, you know.  And then, all of the sudden, my worries were over.  Finally, I thought, I have my column.  It seems that Svend “Bling Bling” Robinson has decided he wants to practice law again after his probation is up.  Now that’s a story just made for this column.  But once again, the balloon burst and I realized the Svend story was meaningless.

After all, you can’t just hang up a shingle and start practicing law.  You have to be admitted to the Bar first.  And there’s no way the Law Society of B.C. would authorize a gem thief to practice law anymore than they would a safe cracker or counterfeiter.  After all, in addition to boosting a rock valued at over $60,000, Svend has previously been sentenced to jail for contempt of court and he violated the nation’s assisted suicide legislation.  They’d never let a criminal practice law.  Would they? 

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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