Penalties for Criminal Charges

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Penalties for Criminal Charges

Res #: 21-19M
Number: 21
Year: 2019
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice and Attorney General

WHEREAS crime continues to spiral out of control in the province and penalties for crime are often not harsh enough to deter future criminal activity;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial and federal governments to impose longer and harsher penalties on those convicted.

Response From The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General:

December 11, 2019

The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to protecting the safety and well -being of rural citizens, and the Ministry of Justice continues to review and consider new policies, programs and legislation to address crime in the province. In recent years, the Government has implemented numerous changes including the Saskatchewan Protection and Response Team, enhanced support for victims of crime, a zero-tolerance policy for drug-impaired drivers, and a revised model for regional policing.

As you are aware, the federal government bears responsibility for establishing penalties for criminal and drug-related offences; however, the Government of Saskatchewan looks forward to continuing our work with SARM to protect the safety and well-being of the province's rural citizens and communities.

Don Morgan, Q.C. - Minister of Justice

View Response From The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General Canada

May 20, 2020

Although the Criminal Code sets out penalties attached to specific offences and states the sentencing principles, sentencing decisions are made by the judge presiding over the trial of an accused person. Our justice system is based on the constitutional principle that judges must render their decisions independently, free from improper influence or interference.  

In arriving at a fit sentence, a judge is guided by the fundamental purpose of sentencing, which is to protect society and to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful, and safe society. Important sentencing objectives include denunciation, deterrence, and the separation of offenders from society when necessary. The Criminal Code also recognizes the importance of imposing just sanctions that aim to assist in rehabilitating offenders, provide reparations for the harm done to victims, and promote a sense of responsibility in offenders and an acknowledgement of the harm done to victims. 

Furthermore, the Criminal Code requires judges to impose a sentence that is proportionate to the gravity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender. This means that every sentence imposed must be appropriate with respect to the offence and its particular circumstances. A judge must also consider all aggravating and mitigating circumstances related to the offence and the offender when determining a fit sentence. For example, Canadian courts have recognized that preying on the vulnerability of rural residents in the commission of an offence is an aggravating factor at sentencing. A sentencing court may increase a sentence to account for the severity of the offence, the degree of responsibility of the offender, and the vulnerability of the victim. 

I share your concerns regarding the crime rates in the province of Saskatchewan. Although there was a decrease in 2018-19, crime rates have remained relatively high in the province. Statistics Canada released a report on this issue, which is entitled Police-reported Crime Statistics in Canada, 2018 and is available at www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/85-002-x/2019001/article/00013-eng.pdf?st=fzWmc6JQ. 

The federal government is committed to crime prevention and recognizes that it must involve addressing root causes, investing in law enforcement, and ensuring that there is collaboration between provincial, territorial, and municipal governments and their partners. I remain committed to improving these partnerships to ensure that the criminal justice system is fair, accessible, and reflective of Canadian values.  

Please be assured that addressing the needs of victims of crime and protecting public safety, while safeguarding fundamental human rights, is a priority for our government.

David Lametti - Minister of Justice and Attoney General Canada