Prime Time Crime


(Editorial in the Spring 2005 edition of Together)

Prisoners' In Our Homes

By James McNaught

Welcome to the 21st century—break-ins, car thefts, violent crime, and the Vancouver Court House firebombed in broad daylight.  Nauseated, we listen to well-meaning authorities telling us what to do and what not to do to protect ourselves, enduring endless rants and rationalizations aimed at appeasing us.  Are we appeased?  Hardly! 

We are told that incarceration is not the answer—incarceration has failed to reduce the crime rate. Joey Thompson of the Vancouver Province writes in her January 28, 2005, column, “Judges are merely following orders when doling out wimpy sentences”, said Provincial Court Chief Judge Carol Ellan.  Ms. Thompson goes on to say, “And she’s right—it’s our elected politicians who, via legislation, directed courts to use jail as a last resort.  B.C. judges seem to have applied a liberal interpretation to that ruling: roughly one in four conditional sentences in B.C. involve a violent crime.”  Well, slap my wrist!

The ten most wanted car thieves in the Lower Mainland are profiled in the newspaper. The public is asked to assist the authorities in locating them so they can be arrested. Eight of the ten profiles include one or more breaches of undertaking, failure to appear, breach of probation—been there, seen that, done that, and probably will do it again scenario.  To which a lady in a local coffee shop remarks with disgust, “Why bother, they’ll be back on the street in no time.  The whole thing is a farce!”  Two car thieves in Saanich are apprehended three times in one day in possession of three different stolen cars.  In the first two incidents, they are released, only to be apprehended a third time.  All in one day?  Really!  Are we missing something?  Yes our marbles! 

The experts tell us that imprisonment achieves only temporary public protection and uneven retribution.  Well, we would settle for temporary protection and if retribution is uneven then Ottawa and the Provinces need to get off their legal duff and work at making it even.  Do you remember when not many years ago a degree of civil sanity reigned; our children could walk to school unescorted, security salespersons were a struggling breed, security systems in homes were unheard of, car alarm systems were rare and paramilitary guards, loaded down with restraining equipment swaggering through the hallowed halls of our malls, were non-existent because they were not needed?  Wonder why?

Pick up your daily newspaper, read it and weep –“released sex offenders need privacy-77 year old woman sexually assaulted near a fast food restaurant—a 69 year old woman taken to hospital with serious head cut after being attacked from behind –a 78 year old woman dies in parking lot, victim of a purse snatching – an elderly woman killed after being knocked over during a purse snatching – a 57 year old woman attacked while her purse was being grabbed – a 28 year old woman punched in the face resisting an attacker attempting to grab her purse – a 56 year old woman knocked to the ground and her purse snatched—a killer to be released, despite parole board ruling that expressed grave concern about his history of violence.” Wait you say, “you protest too much; you are forgetting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”  Whose rights and freedoms-how about ours to be free from pursuit by those unfit to walk among us!  Will law-abiding citizens be forced to consider the unthinkable, that if those we elect to govern us aren’t going to protect us by ridding the streets of these misfits, then its—“Go ahead sonny, make my day,” said Granny, When is enough, enough? Now!

Frustrated police officers, apprehend offenders then watch in silent dismay, as they go in and out of our court system willy nilly, reminding one of a malfunctioning revolving door. “Criminals have no fear of the justice system, they hold it in undisguised contempt. It neither deters them nor rehabilitates them,” says Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino. Meanwhile we cower behind barred windows while crime gangs recruit methamphetamine addicts to steal our mail and our identities. How do you spell F-A-R-C-E!!

We have had it up to our yin yang participating in this dysfunctional three-ring circus.  If democracy is to prevail, then the majority must see justice being served.  “People don’t like me talking about stiffer sentences, but in actual fact so many of the people we deal with have been given but a kiss by the system,” says Chief Fantino. Send a message to your local MP/MLA.  Wake up and smell the bacon!  We want the perpetual perpetrators, away from our children, out of our homes, out of our cars, off our streets, out of sight and off our minds; put them in jail where they belong. 

James McNaught is the executive editor of Together and can be reach at


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