I recently wrote an article celebrating decisions by Manitoba Judges that demonstrated a willingness to accept responsibility for the role of the Judiciary to “set the tone” in a Province that is statistically overrepresented in Homicide, Robbery, Violent Crime and Street Gang Crime.
The story applauded decisions by Provincial Court Judge Dale Schille and Queens Bench Justices Chris Mainella & Rick Saull for putting Public Safety first and making common sense decisions that are likely to have the collateral effect of restoring public confidence and respect for the Bench & the Manitoba Justice System.
Enter Judge Lee Ann Martin and her recent decision to elevate a Young Offender Gang Banger to adult status for sentencing purposes.
The sixteen (16) year old offender was convicted for his role in an Indian Posse Gang initiation Robbery spree in which he armed himself with a loaded firearm, (provided by the gang), and went about the City searching for victims to terrorize and rob. His victims, all youths, were terrorized at gun point, threatened to be shot, forced to the ground and robbed of cell phones and cash. The psychological trauma inflicted on the victims was not lost on Judge Martin who stated; “The consequential harm to the young victims is significant, none of the victims will ever feel safe in their own neighbourhood.”
Judge Martin also recognized the failings of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) in dealing with hard-core young offender gangsters. Her ruling to sentence the offender as an adult acknowledges the fact a maximum youth sentence of three (3) years split between custody and community supervision simply wouldn’t be enough to hold the offender accountable for his crime.
The recent sentencing decisions of these Judges exposes the frailties of the YCJA, a document that was never designed to deal with hard-core committed gang bangers who use firearms and violence as tools of their trade. The sentencing decisions of these four (4) Judges demonstrates awareness of these shortcomings and offers hope that dangerous young offenders will be held accountable for their violent criminal misdeeds.
It seems to me, the YCJA needs a complete overhaul.
The gangster in question is set to appear in Court on June 10, 2013 for sentencing.
The Crown has not indicated their position regarding the length of sentence they will seek.