Sunday, March 16, 2008

Justice Wallace Craig is Bummed Out


BRING BACK VAGRANCY OFFENCES
Wallace Craig - March 12, 2008 - North Shore News
LET’S go back to a real measure of punishment based on the facts of each crime.
Misplaced compassion overturns the purpose of justice. That’s what happened in the case of Darcy Lance Jones; a 20-year career vagrant “subsisting on the dole, panhandling and petty crime to support a drug habit involving marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin.”
On August 1, 2007 Jones capped his version of citizenship by venomously attacking and robbing 81-year-old retired doctor Peter Collins in Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral. On Feb. 28, the Vancouver Sun reported the measure of punishment meted out to Jones: a pretend jail sentence of two years less a day – house arrest – to be followed by three years probation. No steel bars, just words on paper.
The headline “Judge flays society in sentencing homeless robber” got my dander up. Did Judge William Kitchen somehow have two victims in mind?: One real victim, the other an imaginary one. Jones, who cleverly waited out the proceedings for six months to gain first consideration in the judge’s mind; and Collins, a kindly, old, law-abiding citizen who was effectively transformed from a victim of violence into a sacrificial lamb in order to enable a convenient rehabilitation of his ne’er do well attacker.
Shakespeare had it right; we’ve got it wrong. His sage words in Measure for Measure are the essence of common sense.
“We must not make a scarecrow of the law
Setting it up to (frighten) the birds of prey
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.”
If Shakespeare could visit our streets today he would come face to face with wandering 16th Century fearless vagrants. And he would shrug and say “You weak and foolish people; so long as predators have nothing to fear there will be no peace in your homes and byways.”
Judge Kitchen noted that “Two generations ago, there were almost no street people in Vancouver. If a person slept or begged on the street, the police would intervene. … Today in Vancouver there are perhaps thousands living on the streets and in the parks. They sleep everywhere – even in the doorways of the courthouse and police station. …Society created this situation. Law abiding citizens condone it and it has become the expectation of those like Darcy Jones. In fact it is more than an expectation; it is viewed as an entitlement.”
The judge is wrong! Society didn’t create the mess we’re in. Vancouver’s mess began in 1972, born of the democratic vanities and conceit of our federal government and the philosophies of Trudeau and his still-born Just Society.
Some history: After we became a nation in 1867 it took our national government until 1892 to formulate a uniform criminal law. The first version of the Criminal Code of Canada contained 12 situations in which a “loose, idle or disorderly person or vagrant” might be arrested and upon conviction subjected to a maximum fine of $50 or imprisonment not exceeding six months with or without hard labour.
At first, the offence of vagrancy was directed at being a vagrant. In 1954, the Code was amended to make vagrancy the doing of any prohibited act. Vagrancy offences were reduced to five, three of which dealt with street disorder and were quickly dubbed Vag A, B and C.
“Every one commits vagrancy who
a) Not having any apparent means of support is found wandering abroad or trespassing and does not, when required, justify his presence in the place where he is found;
b) Begs from door to door or in a public place;
c) Being a common prostitute … is found in a public place and does not, when required, give a good account of herself.”
The combined effect of the offences of mischief and vagrancy made it possible for police to control disorder on our streets.
Thirty-six years ago vagrancy A, B and C were repealed – altruism prevailing over realism – and disorder took to the streets with gusto. Once the shackle of vagrancy C was removed, an endless stream of vulnerable young girls made street prostitution a rat race presided over by sociopathic johns, pimps and drug pushers.
It was immediate and horrific – unshackled vagrant prostitutes became prey. Worst of all some began to disappear. One by one they vanished to become the 65 missing women of Vancouver’s Skid Road. Yet as each girl disappeared another girl arrived and took her place.
If the vagrancy sections had remained in the Criminal Code and been enforced, I am certain that the serial holocaust murder of our most vulnerable of young girls would not have occurred.
Wake up you parliamentarians! Restore vagrancy offences! Give police the means to bring order to our streets.wallace-gilby-craig@shaw.ca – www.realjustice.ca.

1 comment:

nancy (aka money coach) said...

Geez, why such a hate-on for the people in my 'hood? Lots and lots of whom are "vagrants" I suposed. I've lived in the dtes, a professional woman (and NO, not of that kind) for 8 years now and haven't felt any need for police to come sweeping in and get rid of all those "vagrants". These are my neighbours you're blasting on about dude. Until you've lived here as long as I have, I wish you'd keep your comments to yourself.

And if you are in some kind of professional media guy, may I remind you that it wasn't the vagrants who killed the women?