May 27, 2022

"Canada’s supreme court has ruled that life sentences without the chance of parole are both 'cruel' and unconstitutional..."

"The court unanimously determined on Friday that sentencing killers to lengthy prison terms with little hope of freedom risked bringing the “administration of justice into disrepute.'... Acknowledging the heinous crimes of those serving multiple life sentences, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that the ruling 'must not be seen as devaluing the life' of innocent victims. 'This appeal is not about the value of each human life, but rather about the limits on the state’s power to punish offenders, which, in a society founded on the rule of law, must be exercised in a manner consistent with the Constitution.'"

The Guardian reports.

79 comments:

MikeR said...

"sentencing killers to lengthy prison terms with little hope of freedom risked bringing the 'administration of justice into disrepute.'" I 100% agree. Why keep people in a cage for the rest of their lives? I don't understand why keeping people in cages is ever a sensible punishment.
If they have done things like murder, execution is the only just punishment. For other crimes, retraining and community service.

rhhardin said...

The death sentence for murder is neither punishment nor retribution, but shows society's place for the voice of the victim, a voice that is missing. I'd say the same for no parole life sentences.

n.n said...

Abort the criminal "burdens" in a friendly neighborhood clinic, with drawn shades, using a double-edged scalpel, is a fair, equitable, humane, forward-looking, ethical enterprise.

iowan2 said...

The Cruel and unusual phrasing is misused.

That phrasing was (in the US) written before a justice system was fashioned. The phrasing, was a protection against abuse by a ruler.

But the justice system is, end to end, held accountable by the people. If the people, elect representative and executives that codify death as a sentence, then the PEOPLE do not consider it cruel or unusual. Judges have no constitutional direction to overturn the people.

Having said that. Govt prosecutors have so abused their power, they can no longer be trusted to honestly give the accused fair trials. In short, the govt has lost its trust, to administer death as the final judgement.

stutefish said...

My view is that the thing most likely to bring the administration of justice into disrepute is the public perception that wrongdoers aren't getting the consequences they deserve. Obviously this is not a problem if the Canadian people believe that life without parole goes too far. But ad hoc leniency imposed by the courts without regard for the values of the citizenry is probably not a good idea.

tim maguire said...

Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that the ruling 'must not be seen as devaluing the life' of innocent victims. '

He knows what it is and he's fooling no one by trying to get ahead of the scandal.

Sebastian said...

"'must not be seen as devaluing the life' of innocent victims."

Oh? How so? You reduce the cost of the crime, you devalue the harm done.

"Must not": telling Canadians not to believe their lying eyes, with all the arrogance of a judicial overlord.

sykes.1 said...

Someone pointed out that violent crime is a monopoly of the young, and prisoners who were convicted of violent crimes and who older than 45 or 50 could be released without danger to the public.

Pedophiles are another matter entirely.

Gahrie said...

How long before some Progressive does the same here? I can name three Supreme Court justices that would uphold the decision.

I predict that we start hearing about murderers being killed by mobs and families out for the justice denied to them.

Owen said...

So the stone-cold killers etc just saw a sizeable drop in the cost of doing business. Since this is a zero-sum game, the result is a commensurate decrease in the quality of life for the law-abiding, who will be victimized by the killers.

Gahrie said...

Besides the outrage for the lack of consequences, this puts everyone in more danger. You don't kill murderers and rapists as punishment. If that was true, cruel and unusual punishment would be preferred. You kill them to protect society: A) By removing a dangerous individual, and B) Showing others what will happen if they commit a similar crime.

The anti-death penalty crowd used to say "We'll protect society by never letting them out". Can't do that anymore... ask Sirhan Sirhan.

I'd love to see a study on how many murders and rapes are committed by people let out of prison for murder or rape.

Quaestor said...

Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that the ruling 'must not be seen as devaluing the life' of innocent victims.

Of course, it must not be seen so, else Mr. Justice Wagner and his colleagues would be moral degenerates. Can't have that, now, can we?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The original murder(s) that took place by the perp? Cruel?

nah.

Yancey Ward said...

Well, who could have predicted that?/sarcasm

Yancey Ward said...

The West is becoming an unserious culture.

farmgirl said...

Wtf does that even mean??
That the values aren’t truly equal?
Some are more valuable than others, by law?

gilbar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misinforminimalism said...

Canadians commit crimes? Next thing you'll be telling me that girls poop.

Jersey Fled said...

Canada isn't really a country anyway.

gilbar said...

Gahrie said...
You don't kill murderers and rapists as punishment.
If that was true, cruel and unusual punishment would be preferred


Important thing to remember: The Police (and The LAW) are NOT there to protect victims..
They are there to protect CRIMINALS

IF The Law is going to look the other way (and The Police are going to sit around and just watch)
GOD help the Criminals (AND those that Might Be Criminals)
y'all KNOW what is next, don't you?
3-7-77

Gahrie said...

I wonder if that judge would consider having your brain sucked out of your skull and being dismembered to be cruel? (Sadly, it can't be considered unusual)

boatbuilder said...

What would have been an appropriate sentence for the monster who just shot all those kids?

I'm trying to think of something other than death, but everything I come up with involves torture.

Spiros said...

Talking about moving the goal posts! First, the libs (and the Catholics) are "like let's abolish the death penalty because life in prison is enough." These people used the possibility of life in prison without parole to shift public opinion away from the death penalty. Now that most legislatures and courts have outlawed the death penalty, these same people are arguing that "life in prison is capital punishment's evil twin" and "there is no difference between death by lethal injection or death by incarceration." This is bullsh*t.

Lem said...

I'm leaning to agree with the Canadian Supremes.

Josephbleau said...

Someone pointed out that violent crime is a monopoly of the young,

Untrue, there are many examples of 70 year old inmates who, when released killed someone else within weeks. ( I know, sigh, you will ask for a "link" well, do your own research.)

The Kin Law was that the family would kill anyone who killed a member of the family. That deterred murder, if you were a family that was good at killing. Payment in gold was also allowed in lieu of retribution. The Kin Law was replaced with the Kings Law, to reduce the power of families. The king had to convince the families that s/he would kill the killers as part of an overarching system of justice, so the families need nolonger bother.

So now we break this trust. Why to gangs kill for vengeance? Because you can't call 911 if you have a warrant out on yourself.

The Mercy of tearful judges is cruel because it engenders a return to kin law.

Ampersand said...

None of the murder victims had any comment on the decision.

rcocean said...

LOL. You want rule by Judges and lawyers, you got rule by Judges and lawyers. Not sure why you'd want that, but 'muricans and canadians seem to love it.

Personally, I think that prison sentences should be set by the people's representatives, but then "the people" just want to drink beer, watch football, and complain about those Damn Judges.

Rollo said...

Column in today's Globe and Mail:

In a country where mass shootings are the norm, Americans have moved beyond outrage

Fuck you, Canada. The column was written by an American, but fuck you anyway, Canada.

Gabriel said...

I seem to recall opponents of capital punishment saying that life in prison was an alternative to capital punishment that would keep the public equally safe.

And now that they got their way, life in prison is now inhumane.

Josephbleau said...

This ruling is also perfect for the new Authoritarian Canada. It will allow the disfavored to have 50 year sentences (but not life!), while allowing the favored killers to have 3 years (dropped to 3 months for good behavior). Laissez les bons temps rouler!

traditionalguy said...

The Life Without Parole was traded in Death Cases to negotiate a guilty plea. But in Canada there is no death sentence so it is not needed. The new ruler is now the murderer. The victims and the Canadian police are no longer in charge of anything.

Freeman Hunt said...

Actually, it seems more obvious that *not allowing* "sentencing killers to lengthy prison terms with little hope of freedom risk[s] bringing the 'administration of justice into disrepute.'"

If the judicial system is going to be guided by moral cowardice, why should citizens cede their rights to settle affairs to it?

Pillage Idiot said...

The governor of Oregon recently granted clemency to a murderer who was given a sentence of Life Without Possibility of Parole.

"Brown released Hedquist without bothering to inform the family of Nikki Thrasher, a 19-year-old who may or may not have known that Hedquist committed several burglaries. Hedquist lured Thrasher into the woods and shot her in the back of the head to keep her quiet.

Hedquist was convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But Brown released Thrasher’s executioner because he was such a good boy while in prison."


Words have meanings. Apparently, Democrat politicians can change clear, simple language on a whim. If I had been on the jury and been told that a politician could unilaterally violate the clear meaning of "without the possibility of parole", then I would have worked the jury hard for the death penalty!

My protective instinct for young women is very high, since I have a wife and three daughters. If my only option to protect them from proven murderers is to give the murderer death penalty, then that is the option I will take.

Interested Bystander said...

They really have lost their minds. The victims certainly got a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Skeptical Voter said...

Well pat the poor fellow (murderer that he or she is) on the popo and let them go. It's the Canadian way.

Lem said...

Freeman makes a good point.

Interested Bystander said...

By the way, I see a lot of calls for death penalty. I get the sentiment but think about the people running our government these days, Canada's too. Do you trust them to get it right 100% of the time? I certainly don't. Lots of guys have been paroled in the last few years after being convicted for rape. I suspect just as many were wrongly convicted for murder. Besides, there are so many corrupt prosecutors that care more about their careers and their conviction rates than they do about justice.

Rabel said...

How do you say "penumbra" in Canadian?

Temujin said...

"'This appeal is not about the value of each human life, but rather about the limits on the state’s power to punish offenders, which, in a society founded on the rule of law, must be exercised in a manner consistent with the Constitution.'"

Unless, of course, you go to a church service during our observance of Covid Days. Or, if you use the wrong pronoun on purpose. Or, if you say something against the government on any social media.

ussmidway said...

If somebody murders my brother, or my wife, I am now authorized to take their life at my discretion, by virtue of natural rights in a world without any governing laws. If we organize as citizens of a State, and I defer to the governing laws of the State to administer justice, then the State must act in my stead within the bounds of due process. Having found the murderer guilty, the State must execute the convicted person in a way society views as humane. As a law-abiding citizen, I must then surrender my natural right of retribution.

However, if the State abrogates this social contract, and releases them unharmed -- ever, I am also released from my obligation to defer to the State and we are back to the Law of the Jungle. I am now morally authorized to take justice into my own hands and the State must stand aside and allow the vigilantism that is sure to follow.

They cannot have it both ways, either execute murderers after determining guilt via due process (Bill of Rights in USA), or permit families to take revenge as they see fit. There is no defensible middle ground where convicted murderers are not executed -- by somebody -- for the wanton taking of life. This is the oldest code in human history, and the idiotic "Judges" in Canada will find they have created a much bigger problem than they understand.

Mason G said...

Talking about moving the goal posts! First, the libs (and the Catholics) are "like let's abolish the death penalty because life in prison is enough."

The same thing happens with gun control. Progressives: "We need commonsense restrictions!" They get them, it becomes the new normal, and the cry comes out once more... "We need commonsense restrictions!"

The ratchet only goes in one direction.

Gospace said...

There's an old saying about women: "Can't live with them, can't live without them."

I guess now for deranged murderers it can be written as, "Can't kill them, can't keep them alive."

Owen said...

I look at these learned jurists issuing sentimental vaporings about “cruelty” and I wonder how they can justify their New Improved Interpretation of the law, whereby “no parole” becomes “parole.” And my best guess is, it is hard work (really quite painful and tedious work) to estimate the harm to the population at large if a stone killer is given parole: it’s a generalized impact, the possible harm can’t be localized in a given potential victim, and who really wants to hear from the families of the previous victims of the stone killer? Whereas the other side of the balance —the mood and feelings and impact on the stone killer of being given parole after all that hard time: well, that’s very localized, very easily imagined. It is the very stuff of New Journalism and the subjective viewpoint of the poor victimized underdog-hero with many redeeming features.

So viewed, the emotional balance swings heavily toward the stone killer who, we are assured, has learned his lesson and wants to give back to society’s. Also? Take care of any loose ends.

Gospace said...

sykes.1 said...
Someone pointed out that violent crime is a monopoly of the young, and prisoners who were convicted of violent crimes and who older than 45 or 50 could be released without danger to the public.


One of the reasons that most violent crimes and rapes are committed by the young is- when we catch them we lock them up. There has been well more than one instance of 60+ year old criminals being released and killing or raping.

45 or 50 is plenty young enough to commit more mayhem on the innocent after years of extra training in prison.

Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

They don't have to grant them parole. The court only had a problem with making them live with no hope.

MadTownGuy said...

Gahrie said...

"How long before some Progressive does the same here? I can name three Supreme Court justices that would uphold the decision."

Yesterday in Harrisburg, next to the courthouse, I saw a huge billboard saying:
"5,467 people in PA are sentenced to die in prison. End death by incarceration."
Paid for by 'Let's Get Free.'

Sounds like the push has already started.

Blair said...

I'm so sorry that Paul Bernardo, who drugged, raped and murdered his own teenaged sister in law, had no hope of release. I'm so glad that's one less thing burdening the hearts and minds of our liberal Canadian friends. But I guess Karla Homolka is already free, so it's only fair.

Josephbleau said...

"They don't have to grant them parole. The court only had a problem with making them live with no hope."

I don't understand. Is this just then a mind F*? How can the court offer them hope if they won't be paroled?

I think it is cruel for the court to dick with the killers giving them hope.

n.n said...

None of the murder victims had any comment on the decision.

Diversity (i.e. class), Inequity, and Exclusion (DIE) is socially forward philosophy.

n.n said...

Govt prosecutors have so abused their power, they can no longer be trusted to honestly give the accused fair trials.

That's the problem. We cannot tolerate demos-cracy aborted in darkness.

John henry said...

Jersey Fled said...

Canada isn't really a country anyway.

Not as long as they are subjects of a British queen. Not as long as they let the queen of England appoint their prime minister.

They are just a British colony. They are not a sovereign nation

*So far the queen, via her governor General always appoints the candidate from the majority party. She is under no obligation to do so.

n.n said...

Reduce the risk, reduce the opportunity cost, increase the incentive. [Fast] Forward! to a low trust society. SUVs following a true course, "heroes" lurking in darkness, a scalpel/knife held firmly in a leading criminal enterprise of mass ab... depravity, in progress.

Wilbur said...

This appears to be another example of the "I Know Best" jurisprudential school as espoused by William J. Brennan:

If there's an important social policy, duly enacted through legislation and carried out by the executive branch, with which I (as a judge) personally disagree, then I can and should use judicial fiat to change that policy to accord with MY view of what the policy should be.

Because I'm wiser than all of you rubes.

Ann Althouse said...

“ I think it is cruel for the court to dick with the killers giving them hope.”

Exactly!

Quaestor said...

The court only had a problem with making them live with no hope.

Now law-abiding Canadians can live with no hope of being safe from recidivist murderers.

How long do you think before the first province demands independence from the Dominion? Quebec made that demand back in the Sixties and subsequently forced every Canadian with aspirations beyond poutine gravy-drizzler at Harvey's to learn French (and not even French French, but that Quebecois creole).

As soon as the Tories can bounce Fidel Junior and his fascists from power there will be a big helping of constitutional reform on Canadian plates. Three months ago they learned that their basic human rights are guaranteed by the current British North America Acts like your transmission is guaranteed by one of those car warranty companies that keep ringing me up with spoofed caller IDs -- like a snowball's survival odds in Hell. An amendment stating that life sentences without the possibility of parole are exactly that and unassailable by the courts will be among them.

farmgirl said...

Heinous criminals don’t need to be hopeful.
They need to be grateful that they’re serving life in prison as opposed to being on death row.

I’ve read enough Louis L’Amour books to understand rawhide justice.
In another thread I brought up the Catechism, it’s a book that holds the law of the Catholic Church w/so many cross referencing that it’s dizzying to decipher. The death penalty is not verboten. It’s as Gahrie stated above- the greater community is to be protected. It’s balanced.

To mention value of life- and not devaluation of the victim: is to devalue the victim!
What a sad, messy & depressing week.

Quaestor said...

Punishment without hope puts me in mind of the Devine Comedy. The gate of Dante's Hell has this famous inscription:

"Per me si va ne la città dolente,
Per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
Per me si va tra perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina potestate,
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.
Dinanzi a mi non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate."

William Blake boiled down to the more familiar Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

However, it seems to me that the only souls with hope are in Purgatory. Those denizens of Paradise are as hopeless as the damned. They've already achieved everything achievable except rebellion against God, which would unavoidably land them in Hell with Lucifer and his rebel angels. Thus they can only hope for hopelessness.

The Godfather said...

"This appeal is . . . about the limits on the state’s power to punish offenders, which, in a society founded on the rule of law, must be exercised in a manner consistent with the Constitution." Who can disagree with that? If the Canadian Constitution prohibits life sentences without parole, then someone should have so informed the judges and jurors who imposed such sentences.

But somehow, as a non-expert on the Canadian Constitution, I suspect that the Constitution doesn't prohibit life sentences without parole. I suspect it's a sentiment of a bunch of enlightened Canadian Justices who are offended by the idea of locking up murderers for life. If that's so, we don't need to refer to Canada as a democracy do we?

Michael K said...

They had no problem destroying the lives of truckers. Depends on your politics. Just like here with our 800 political prisoners.

Owen said...

“…cruel for the court to dick with the killers giving them hope.”

Bingo. What a convoluted moral knot THAT is. Is there any sign that the court understood the com/plication that grows from its ruling? Upsetting settled expectations —even expectations of no parole— imposes a real cost. On the killer, on those injured by the loss he caused, on the wider system.

Why do it if it’s fake? Isn’t that a kind of moral murder: to go through the motions of a hearing for a parole that (very secretly) will never be granted?

Bender said...

An awful lot of hyperventilating for:

(1) something that is none of our damn business -- Canada is a different country with a different system of law. I didn't like when what's-his-name, the Canuck, came here bad-mouthing the U.S. over COVID policy, and this likewise is MYOB;

(2) the mere possibility that maybe -- maybe -- some geezer in his 60s or 70s might be let out of prison, and then on supervised release.

Besides, the fact is that there is NEVER going to be true justice in any court system or penological system or any other human endeavor. Leave the justice to God.

Bender said...

Anyone bitching about a murderer having the possibility of parole needs to just take a look at Leslie Van Houten.

Jupiter said...

"I'm trying to think of something other than death, but everything I come up with involves torture."

It is never, justified to take pleasure in the suffering of another creature.

Doug said...

If they can't jail them forever or execute them, what should Canada do with their monsters?

wendybar said...

Blair said...
I'm so sorry that Paul Bernardo, who drugged, raped and murdered his own teenaged sister in law, had no hope of release. I'm so glad that's one less thing burdening the hearts and minds of our liberal Canadian friends. But I guess Karla Homolka is already free, so it's only fair.

5/27/22, 8:04 PM

They were my first thoughts on this too. How she lives with herself is beyond me, but he is a monster.

Tim said...

And again, unelected judges find a right in their Constitution that quite plainly is not there. It does not matter what you think of the ruling on it's merits, it is quite clearly being imposed from above by people who are violating the oath they took so they could impose their views on the electorate. Democracy, it appears, dies not in darkness, but in apathy. When the Western democracies have enough, and elect their own "strongman" the way "lesser" countries do, we have only ourselves to blame. A democracy, if we can keep it, indeed.

boatbuilder said...

Jupiter-there is perhaps some "pleasure" to be taken in seeing the execution or torture of a criminal who has committed heinous crimes upon one's fellow creatures. And I suspect that a substantial part of the concern of the Canadian justice, and others of the same inclination, is dismay at the thought of a substantial portion of the people taking great pleasure in witnessing the punishment.

But the real question here is not what the potential moral effect on the populace may be. It is "What would be 'justice,' given what the criminal did." And I am hard-pressed to come up with anything short of death.

Salvatore Ramos is dead. Does anyone think that wasn't a "just" outcome--short of taking him alive and administering something "worse than death?"

gilbar said...

Doug said...
If they can't jail them forever or execute them, what should Canada do with their monsters?

well DUH!
a VERY Stern Talking To about how their actions were unacceptable; And very possibly, a slap on the wrist

Robert Cook said...

In the meantime, down here in "the land of the free" (which imprisons more people than any other nation in the world), the US Supreme Court rules that being innocent of a crime is not sufficient to grant retrials even if evidence exists that might prove their innocence.

This is a rancid example of the Court ruling according to Scalia's possibly "legally correct" but morally incoherent assertion that “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”"

What was that quote from Benjamin Franklin? "It is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer."

Sorry, Ben, Tony Scumboni and his thuggish acolytes on the court say you (and innocents in prison) can go fuck yourself!

Brylinski said...

Doug said...
If they can't jail them forever or execute them, what should Canada do with their monsters?

Send them here of course! Just like the Cubans, Mexicans, ...

Narayanan said...

Important thing to remember: The Police (and The LAW) are NOT there to protect victims..
They are there to protect CRIMINALS
==========
I am beginning to get this point when I read that
=== the police talked down Buffalo shooter from blowing own face/head off

mikee said...

How about this:
At any time during a sentence of life without parole, the prisoner may choose to end his or her incarceration via painless euthanasia.

Everyone should be happy with this, yes?

Oso Negro said...

We have about 178,000 incarcerated murderers in the US. Attu Island would make a fine penal colony. Put them there and let them roam the Island freely, but not leave.

alanc709 said...

Isn't one of the left's justifications for ending the death penalty that the guilty get put away for life? What happens when another judicial panel decides 20 years is a cruel and unusual punishment? When the letter of the law no longer matters, there is no law.

Jupiter said...

"there is perhaps some "pleasure" to be taken in seeing the execution or torture of a criminal who has committed heinous crimes upon one's fellow creatures."

I didn't say it was not possible to take pleasure in the suffering of another creature. It is, in fact, quite common. I have certainly done it myself, many times. But when I examine the roots of such pleasure, I don't find anything attractive. It is, at a minimum, unseemly, that the State should supply victims for that purpose.

Jupiter said...

"sentencing killers to lengthy prison terms with little hope of freedom risked bringing the administration of justice into disrepute."

Surely a bizarre conclusion. There may be valid arguments against sentencing criminals to life without parole, but that is not among them. That such a ridiculous claim could have unanimous assent seems to indicate that the Canadian jurists have completely forgotten the primary function of the legal system. They apparently believe they are managing a debating society.

Robert Cook said...

"Isn't one of the left's justifications for ending the death penalty that the guilty get put away for life?"

I don't know...I suppose that is a justification some have made. Another argument is that it is barbaric for the state to put humans to death, that it is simply the state wreaking revenge on the offender, putting the state on a moral level no higher than the murderer, and coarsens the state to all accused brought before it. I can understand that argument. This is particularly apt when the murderer is mentally ill or has substandard intelligence to the point where he may truly not be responsible for or aware of the consequences of his behavior, or even cognizant of his circumstances as he faces imminent execution.

The most compelling argument to me is that there can be uncertainty of the guilt of the condemned person. We know that miscarriages of justice occur all the time and have always occurred, and prisoners have been exonerated and released after years and decades in prison. At any time, there are innocent persons languishing in prison. Do we want to take the life of someone who may not be guilty?

I personally have no problem with the execution of people who are guilty of certain truly sickening and brutal crimes; I agree there are some people for whom execution is appropriate. However, I do not necessarily think anyone who has killed another automatically deserves the death penalty, and, given the uncertainty as to guilt in many cases, possibly not even most. I think the death penalty should only be considered where there truly is no doubt as to the defendant's guilt and the crime was particularly egregious.

The problem is, once the state agrees that it is appropriate to execute the worst of the worst, it becomes easy, and is inevitable, that the death penalty will be handed down for crimes of lesser egregiousness. Policies implemented for rare specialized cases--such as SWAT teams--become tools applied to a broad strata of often inappropriate circumstances. Overkill becomes business as usual.

Zev said...

So sad that a murderer must remain in jail. The heart bleeds.
Having shown such people the unwarranted mercy of not executing them, we now become concerned that life in jail is just too burdensome for the poor murderers, so the only solution is to free them.
Well, I propose that a better solution is to execute them.