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Whatever happened to hard time?

– Whatever happened to hard time?
We’d call it a joke, but there’s nothing funny about what is going on in our criminal justice system these days.
Look no further than three items in the news this past week:
Columnist Mark Bonokoski reminded us about Henry Danninger, who is becoming a free man again after serving just two-thirds of a paltry five-year sentence for the vicious killing of a university student.
Then came the warning from police about a dangerous bank robber who was on the loose in near Prescott after escaping custody.
James Taylor had seven years left on his 28-year sentence when he decided he’d prefer freedom to life in the Beaver Creek “corrections camp.”
Maybe someone at Correctional Services Canada can explain why Taylor,a serial armed bank robber known to prey on women for help and cash was being housed in a minimum-security camp in the first place.
Item No. 3 involves the stranger-than-fiction case of Albert Walker, the con man and embezzler who knocked off a pal in England, then managed to wangle a transfer back to Canada to do his time, where he’ll soon be eligible for day parole after just 12 years in the slammer.
That’s despite the fact that a first-degree murder conviction — even in lenient Canada — is supposed to warrant an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
The Walker deal isn’t just counter to common sense; it’s the opposite of what was said by the feds at the time his transfer was negotiated. A memo back then from Fred Mohlmann, senior policy analyst for the public safety department said sentences for transferred inmates should mirror what they would get for the same crime in a Canadian court.
Walker’s ex-wife, Barbara McDonald, expressed fear for her family’s safety when the transfer occurred last spring. She was appalled at the prospect of a parole hearing process and his possible release in just a few years.
“It’s way too early, considering all that he has done,” she said. “He got a very sweet deal.”
Sweet deals seem to be all too common in what we wistfully call our “justice” system. One of the reason Canadians elected the Harper Conservatives was because they promised to get tougher on crime.
That can’t come soon enough.