Recently, a 20-year-old man from Surrey received a month in jail for his part in the Stanley Cup riots, which took place just over a year ago.
Many people are hoping this sets a precedent for future sentencing, and it should.
A one-month term for taking part in a riot, in which millions of dollars in property damage was done, police were assaulted, 150 were injured and the global reputation of the Vancouver area was severely damaged, is light punishment.
However, it is likely that many of those charged will not receive any punishment. Their cases may well be thrown out of court because of excessive delay, due to the severely plugged nature of the court system. If a case is delayed for 18 months or longer, through no fault of the defence, it is quite likely it will not come to trial.
This is unacceptable. While it says volumes about the state of the court system, something that few people pay attention to unless they are directly involved, it sends a bad message to the rioters.
It tells them that they should do all they can to delay the process until they are charged. And, they should not plead guilty. As a result, they may see their case dropped.
The provincial government should set up a temporary court which can solely deal with riot cases. Everyone who is charged in connection with the riot should face trial, and do time if found guilty.
If such a temporary court proves to work well, it could be used in other situations – such as to relieve system congestion in specific areas.
If rioters are able to get off without any consequences because of a backlog of cases, the criminal justice system needs some creative fixing.
The province can do something about this – now. Authority must trump lawlessness.
– Black Press