EDITORIALS, LOCAL NEWS

MURDER & SOFT JUSTICE – “A Fact of Life?”

Extra, Extra!

The continuing devaluation of life in Manitoba should be troubling to every right thinking person living within the boarders of our prairie Province.

But is it troubling to anyone?

On March 31, 2013, Allyson Boulanger (30) killed her longtime boyfriend Russell George Hamilton (31) after an escalating domestic dispute.  She was subsequently charged with second degree murder and was detained in custody.

Although tragic, the case is not distinguishable from many Manitoba slayings.

A history of domestic violence, a drinking party, and an edged weapon, all ingredients in a Manitoba made recipe for disaster.

Boulanger’s sister told Police she walked into a room and found Hamilton on the floor suffering from a single stab wound to the chest.  Prior to entering the room she heard her sister threaten to stab him.  The couple had a troubled relationship.  Hamilton is reported to have been convicted of assaulting Boulanger on two (2) previous occasions.  He set fire to her home during one of the incidents.

Crown Prosecutor Bruce Sychuk reported there were no witnesses to the killing as everyone present was passed out or grossly intoxicated.  It’s not hard to imagine Boulanger was in a similar state.

During her ride to the Police Station Boulanger is reported to have asked, “Who did I kill?”

Nevertheless, Sychuk asked the court to impose a sentence of eight (8) years in prison, a reasonable position considering evidence from Boulanger’s sister indicated Boulanger was the aggressor in the deadly confrontation.  The fact that Boulanger was on charge for assault and under court order to abstain from alcohol at the time of the attack should have been considered aggravating factors.

The only argument for leniency came in the way of a suggestion from Boulanger that she killed Hamilton out of fear.  It seems Hamilton was trying to take her home with him causing her to fear for her safety.  “I didn’t want to go, I knew he would beat me up,” she said.

Whether the fear was rational or irrational matters not.  The response was deadly, over the top and unnecessary.  Surely there were other options open to Boulanger that didn’t include plunging a knife into her former lovers chest.

The case was recently resolved by the way of guilty plea to Manslaughter for which Boulanger received a sentence of two (2) years less a day.  (The sentence is in addition to ten (10) months of pre-trial custody.)  She’ll be eligible for parole once 2/3’s of her time is served.

The pre-sentence report, completed by a Probation Officer, indicated domestic violence is so common in the community it has become “normalized” and residents “accept it as a fact of life.”

The question I ask is why wouldn’t it become normalized?

When the law of the land dictates that killers only serve two (2) years in prison for killing someone then what message does that send to the citizenry?

What message does that send to the people who live in Bloodvein?

I’m not suggesting that sentencing decisions have any proactive effect when it comes to reducing the frequency of homicide.  What I am suggesting is that when our justice system places such little value on human life that a ripple effect is felt by all of us.  That ripple effect translates to a loss of humanity, loss of concern for our fellow citizens and the desensitization of good and decent people.

That ripple effect causes us to “accept” the justice systems devaluation of human life and to see victim suffrage and loss as “normalized” conditions in the evolution of our society.

I simply can’t imagine being a Judge or a Justice and rendering a decision that would see someone who committed the ultimate crime receive a paltry sentence of two (2) years in prison.

Could it be that murders such as these have become so common place in our Communities that the judiciary has accepted them “as facts of life.”  That the devaluation of human life has become “normalized” to them.

I don’t care about the aggravating circumstances, the Gladue reports or the sentencing sob stories.  Life has to mean more than this in a free and democratic first world Country.

I’m sorry, it’s not “normal” to me and I refuse to “accept” it.

FACTOIDS:

Bloodvein First Nation is a small community located approximately 193 air kilometres from Winnipeg on the east side of Lake Winnipeg along the Bloodvein River. Approximately eight hundred (800) people live on the reserve while another four hundred-fifty (450) live off reserve.

The RCMP staff a permanent detachment on the reserve that consists of one (1) Corporal, three (3) Constables and one (1) public service employee.

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