Prolific, repeat criminal needs stronger penalties: UBCM

Ottawa and Victoria asked to consider criminal justice changes

A resolution before delegates called for the UBCM to petition the provincial and federal governments to enact criminal justice system changes for stricter penalties to ensure adequate incarceration of prolific criminals | Photo: Istock

Prolific and repeat criminal offenders should be subject to stronger court sentencing regimes and post-jail monitoring, Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference delegates agreed Sept.14.

A resolution before delegates called for the UBCM to petition the provincial and federal governments to enact criminal justice system changes for stricter penalties to ensure adequate incarceration of prolific criminals, including consistent use of electronic monitoring when released on conditions.

The resolution received 51.6% approval.

In the past, the UBCM membership has endorsed resolutions asking the provincial and/or federal government to:

• ensure prolific offenders are sentenced effectively and supported by credible programs in communities to address underlying challenges such as substance abuse or mental illness;

• amend or create laws or policies that will prohibit offenders labeled high risk from residing in the community or the vicinity of the community where they committed their crime(s) following release from prison;

• improve sentencing guidelines, including escalating sentences for chronic offenders, and revise public policy underlying the Criminal Code to re-emphasize the protection of society and the responsibility of individuals for their criminal behaviour; and

• change the law with respect to “repeat offenders," including conditions around release into the community, treatment programs and rehabilitation benchmarks.

The UBCM has also requested Victoria develop a long-term, multifaceted strategy to help people suffering from concurrent mental disorders to avoid becoming chronic offenders, by providing integrated health and psychiatric care, criminal justice reform and access to affordable housing.

It has also recommended Victoria examine preventative and proactive investments in health, addictions and housing, as opposed to reliance on punitive responses, in order to help assist affected individuals and reduce the burden on police.

The UBCM membership has not previously endorsed a resolution requesting "consistent use of electronic monitoring" of prolific offenders that are released on conditions.

A second resolution calling changes to conditions of release into communities was withdrawn.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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