Oh my god! The Gazette finally decided to cover a story about Quebec criminal justice!
(ya, the ADQ… Super Mario never met a political opportunity he didn’t like)
ADQ seeks tougher prison, parole systems
Dumont: Quebec charter of victims’ rights urged; Father of murder victim Julie Boisvenu is on panel discussing how inmates are treated
MIKE DE SOUZA
Monday, April 25, 2005
Disgusted by stories of repeat offenders committing serious crimes after getting early parole, Action democratique du Quebec leader Mario Dumont yesterday vowed his party would draft a policy to correct the situation.
“It’s absurd and revolting that a system that has as a goal to put people back on the right track is a system that is based, itself, on crooked actions, lies and hypocrisy,” he told more than 200 members at a general council meeting.
“An ADQ government would fight against crime, and make Quebec a safer place to live.”
The family of Julie Boisvenu spent $8,000 on funeral costs alone after she was killed in 2002 by a repeat sex offender who had served only three months of an 18-month sentence for his first crime. But while Quebec paid for the legal fees of Hugo Bernier – the man convicted of killing her – it gave only $600 to the family.
“So the victims are completely excluded from the system to the benefit of criminals,” said Julie’s father, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, part of a panel invited by the ADQ to discuss the issue.
The family also had to pay to travel from their home in the Eastern Townships to Montreal once a week during Bernier’s trial as they searched for answers to why he wasn’t kept behind bars or rehabilitated the first time he was convicted of rape.
While they wrote to the Revenue and Public Security Departments for all available records on Bernier, the family’s requests were refused because of laws protecting personal information. Boisvenu said it’s an injustice that is unique in Canada.
“If we want to have the files, we have to launch a lawsuit against the Public Security Department, so again it’s us as victims who must spend money to have information, while at the federal level, the government automatically sends you the information,” he said.
Boisvenu is asking Quebec to revise its parole laws, and to adopt a new charter guaranteeing the rights of victims and improving their compensation.
Dumont said the issues would be debated prior to the party’s next general council meeting in the fall, but he indicated he wants to end the system of political nominations to the parole board. He said the government imposes quotas on the board’s commissioners as well as on prison officials, so it can empty out overcrowded detention centres.
Dumont said the issue is neglected by Quebec’s other political parties, but he admitted crime rates remain low in the province.
“Certainly, our aim is not to create some panic, (or) to try to convince people that the crime rate is extreme in Quebec,” he said. “But still, we have enough examples of people whose lives are taken by people whose names are on the prison list.”
The author of a book on Quebec’s parole system urged ADQ supporters not to be afraid of being labeled “rednecks” for pursuing the matter.
“This is bull—-,” said Yves Theriault, who sold a few copies of his book, Tout le monde dehors, following the panel discussion. “The reality is that the Quebec correctional services system is a monumental failure. Quebec prisons are like Club Med.”
Theriault said federal inmates go through rehabilitation programs, while Quebec offers no such help. Since the provincial justice system only sends people with sentences under two years to Quebec prisons, he said there is often a false assumption that no serious crime was committed.