No walk in the park

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

If it wasn't so alarmingly preposterous, one might think the headline that screamed from a Toronto newspaper last week was a skit from Monty Python: Murderer got Wonderland trip: Police.

Unfortunately, that's the charge - not denied by Correctional Service Canada officials - that the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) leveled during their launch of a campaign targeting what it sees as serious flaws in the federal and provincial justice systems, as well as inappropriate sentencing.

OACP president Armand La Barge revealed that as many as nine hard-core prisoners - all on some form of parole - were given travel permits from their federal handlers to attend Paramount Canada's Wonderland theme park.

Among the cons who took in a day at the park was one serving a life sentence for second degree murder and armed sexual assault while another was serving six years for manslaughter and drug trafficking.

But wait, it gets worse - the cons aren't always escorted during their 'well-deserved' field trips. A corrections official said permits are authorized for a number of reasons including education, humanitarian reasons, medical reasons and recreation.

As La Barge rightly countered, "...mandatory parole and weekend passes to local theme parks do little to dissuade murderers, child molesters (and others) from committing these horrific crimes."

La Barge says the police and public are losing confidence in the criminal justice system's ability to deal with violent and predatory criminals and that's why the police chiefs have launched this campaign.

They have also chosen to testify before a Commons committee demanding a get-tough, mandatory jail sentence approach to those found guilty of committing gun-related crimes.

The courts, Crown attorneys and both federal and provincial politicians would be wise to heed the police chiefs' words. The public is indeed losing confidence in "the system." Hard work to restore that confidence is needed. Correcting the system certainly won't be a day at the park.

* * *

THE FRONT OF THE BUS

Nearly 50 years after the fact, it's next to impossible to imagine the measure of courage and inner strength it took for one woman to stem the tide of generations of systemic racism. The attitude was so inbred in American culture of the times that a 40-year-old white man didn't hesitate to demand that Rosa Parks, a hard-working black woman, surrender her seat on an Alabama bus back in December, 1955.

Parks was tired. She said no.

The rest is history. Her arrest and trial was followed by a 381-day bus boycott in Montgomery. In November 1956, the Supreme Court decided what Parks knew in her heart: segregation (in this case on public transportation) is unconstitutional.

Soft-spoken and diplomatic, Parks never shirked in her role as an icon for the Civil Rights Movement. She met with presidents and world leaders, and published her own story, Quiet Strength, in 1994.

Rosa Parks passed away this week, aged 92. But her simple act will inspire others for a long time to come.

No walk in the park

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

If it wasn't so alarmingly preposterous, one might think the headline that screamed from a Toronto newspaper last week was a skit from Monty Python: Murderer got Wonderland trip: Police.

Unfortunately, that's the charge - not denied by Correctional Service Canada officials - that the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) leveled during their launch of a campaign targeting what it sees as serious flaws in the federal and provincial justice systems, as well as inappropriate sentencing.

OACP president Armand La Barge revealed that as many as nine hard-core prisoners - all on some form of parole - were given travel permits from their federal handlers to attend Paramount Canada's Wonderland theme park.

Among the cons who took in a day at the park was one serving a life sentence for second degree murder and armed sexual assault while another was serving six years for manslaughter and drug trafficking.

But wait, it gets worse - the cons aren't always escorted during their 'well-deserved' field trips. A corrections official said permits are authorized for a number of reasons including education, humanitarian reasons, medical reasons and recreation.

As La Barge rightly countered, "...mandatory parole and weekend passes to local theme parks do little to dissuade murderers, child molesters (and others) from committing these horrific crimes."

La Barge says the police and public are losing confidence in the criminal justice system's ability to deal with violent and predatory criminals and that's why the police chiefs have launched this campaign.

They have also chosen to testify before a Commons committee demanding a get-tough, mandatory jail sentence approach to those found guilty of committing gun-related crimes.

The courts, Crown attorneys and both federal and provincial politicians would be wise to heed the police chiefs' words. The public is indeed losing confidence in "the system." Hard work to restore that confidence is needed. Correcting the system certainly won't be a day at the park.

* * *

THE FRONT OF THE BUS

Nearly 50 years after the fact, it's next to impossible to imagine the measure of courage and inner strength it took for one woman to stem the tide of generations of systemic racism. The attitude was so inbred in American culture of the times that a 40-year-old white man didn't hesitate to demand that Rosa Parks, a hard-working black woman, surrender her seat on an Alabama bus back in December, 1955.

Parks was tired. She said no.

The rest is history. Her arrest and trial was followed by a 381-day bus boycott in Montgomery. In November 1956, the Supreme Court decided what Parks knew in her heart: segregation (in this case on public transportation) is unconstitutional.

Soft-spoken and diplomatic, Parks never shirked in her role as an icon for the Civil Rights Movement. She met with presidents and world leaders, and published her own story, Quiet Strength, in 1994.

Rosa Parks passed away this week, aged 92. But her simple act will inspire others for a long time to come.

No walk in the park

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

If it wasn't so alarmingly preposterous, one might think the headline that screamed from a Toronto newspaper last week was a skit from Monty Python: Murderer got Wonderland trip: Police.

Unfortunately, that's the charge - not denied by Correctional Service Canada officials - that the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) leveled during their launch of a campaign targeting what it sees as serious flaws in the federal and provincial justice systems, as well as inappropriate sentencing.

OACP president Armand La Barge revealed that as many as nine hard-core prisoners - all on some form of parole - were given travel permits from their federal handlers to attend Paramount Canada's Wonderland theme park.

Among the cons who took in a day at the park was one serving a life sentence for second degree murder and armed sexual assault while another was serving six years for manslaughter and drug trafficking.

But wait, it gets worse - the cons aren't always escorted during their 'well-deserved' field trips. A corrections official said permits are authorized for a number of reasons including education, humanitarian reasons, medical reasons and recreation.

As La Barge rightly countered, "...mandatory parole and weekend passes to local theme parks do little to dissuade murderers, child molesters (and others) from committing these horrific crimes."

La Barge says the police and public are losing confidence in the criminal justice system's ability to deal with violent and predatory criminals and that's why the police chiefs have launched this campaign.

They have also chosen to testify before a Commons committee demanding a get-tough, mandatory jail sentence approach to those found guilty of committing gun-related crimes.

The courts, Crown attorneys and both federal and provincial politicians would be wise to heed the police chiefs' words. The public is indeed losing confidence in "the system." Hard work to restore that confidence is needed. Correcting the system certainly won't be a day at the park.

* * *

THE FRONT OF THE BUS

Nearly 50 years after the fact, it's next to impossible to imagine the measure of courage and inner strength it took for one woman to stem the tide of generations of systemic racism. The attitude was so inbred in American culture of the times that a 40-year-old white man didn't hesitate to demand that Rosa Parks, a hard-working black woman, surrender her seat on an Alabama bus back in December, 1955.

Parks was tired. She said no.

The rest is history. Her arrest and trial was followed by a 381-day bus boycott in Montgomery. In November 1956, the Supreme Court decided what Parks knew in her heart: segregation (in this case on public transportation) is unconstitutional.

Soft-spoken and diplomatic, Parks never shirked in her role as an icon for the Civil Rights Movement. She met with presidents and world leaders, and published her own story, Quiet Strength, in 1994.

Rosa Parks passed away this week, aged 92. But her simple act will inspire others for a long time to come.