British Columbia’s attorney general should take steps to minimize the costs of federally mandated minimum sentences in the province.
The federal government is responsible for passing criminal law, including the setting of penalties for particular offences. The provinces are responsible for the administration of justice, which includes the prosecution of criminal offences.
Legal-aid lawyers across B.C. are threatening to adjourn hundreds of criminal trials if they can’t reach a funding agreement with government.
The lawyers plan to adjourn six weeks of criminal cases, from shoplifting to murders, in courtrooms across the province from Oct. 7 to 10, if the Legal Services Society of B.C. can’t reach a deal with the Attorney General.
The budget crunch facing the Justice Ministry is evidence of the need to get on with overhauling B.C.’s justice system. A system that handles cases reasonably quickly and efficiently will not only be more fair and effective, but will also be less costly.
And the Herculean task of cutting expenses would be significantly easier if the federal government had not imposed mandatory minimum sentences.
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