Prime Time Crime  


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Aug. 14, 2006)

Children put at risk by anti-prison ideology

  By John Martin

The alleged abduction of two young boys by Peter Whitmore is further evidence that now is the time for mandatory minimum sentences.  Despite a legacy of sexually abusing children, Whitmore has routinely been released from custody only to reoffend and add to his lengthy list of young victims.

It’s one thing for bleeding heart judges to continuously turn car thieves, burglars and small time drug dealers back on the streets to make our lives miserable.  But it boggles the mind that sex offenders and pedophiles are given endless opportunities to terrorize children.

Despite numerous opportunities to incarcerate Whitmore for a lengthy period of time he has been the beneficiary of ridiculously short sentences and the prevailing liberal orthodoxy that prison is not the answer.  Apparently mandatory minimums are “scary” and would bring us too close to an American prison system.  Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Already the usual parade of apologists are lining up to assure us mere humanoids that everything is fine and there’s no need to crack down with tougher sentencing provisions.  Even though horror stories involving the likes of Whitmore are all too common, the “experts” continue to insist the system is working smoothly.

It’s interesting that these misfits; largely made up of lawyers and academics, adamantly defended the gun registry with the mantra that despite the cost, if it saved even one life it will have been well worth it.

If mandatory minimums prevented just one child molestation, would that not be worthwhile too?  Apparently not.

 Not only are these apologists inconsistent, they embrace a disturbing double standard.  Consider what happens when a child in social services care is harmed.  There are demands for inquiries and investigations.  People resign and others are terminated.  There are usually calls for the minister responsible to step down.  But these same “experts” have been quick to defend a judiciary that refuses to lock up Whitmore and predators like him.  Even though it was a 100% certainty that he would reoffend.

The law is not the problem here.  The Criminal Code provides for meaningful sentences for the likes of Whitmore.   The issue is judges, who have considerable discretion, continue to sentence on the low end of the continuum.  Then, this is compounded by corrections officials who are typically all too eager to put together early release packages and reduce prison populations.

We’re constantly being told that public safety is always the prime consideration in criminal justice decision-making.  But it’s getting a bit hard to swallow that one any more.  The rights of criminals and a cult-like devotion to an anti-incarceration ideology appear to be paramount.

No child deserves to be taken to Hell and back on account of justice system decision makers who philosophically disagree with sending people to jail.

Peter Whitmore is not an anomaly and he did not fall through the cracks.  He is the poster boy for a justice system that has been highjacked by ideology.

Now that’s scary.



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

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