Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jeff Healey - While My Guitar Gently Weeps

James Brown & Pavarotti

Province Column

We're not doing enough for the criminals who can be helped

David Berner

The Province
Sunday, March 02, 2008

Do you believe in evil? I've seen evil. I've smelled it, shaken hands with it.

A man was out on day parole from a federal prison. I was the moderator at a conference on justice issues. The man talked to me at coffee breaks and the lunch break.

Can you imagine what this man was doing time for? No, you cannot imagine.

One night, when he was drunk, the man slashed his infant daughter to pieces and then did some unspeakable things to the remains.

The social worker assigned to this lunatic's case told me he refused to work with the client after he had read the file. We all have limits.

Why was this convict out on a day pass?

Premier Gordon Campbell has said in one breath that he will review sentencing in the province. In the next, he admits that sentencing of major crimes is a federal responsibility and out of his hands. If Campbell or Prime Minister Stephen Harper would ever like to seriously examine the justice system, they might consider this.

There are two kinds of criminals serving time in Canadian prisons. We all too often do exactly the wrong things with both types.

The first kind is the maniac, the crossed-entirely-over-to-the-dark-side evil psycho. This person is a clear and present danger to the community and always will be.

Much too often, they are released. Why? Because they have served their time, or because the geniuses at the National Parole Board have read a report by a psychiatrist which states, "Subject
presents relatively low risk of re-offending."

Who's the crazy one here?

The second kind of prisoners are the "dumb goofs." They're in the majority.

Never the sharpest reed in the wind section, they consistently make lousy choices.
They might be an addict or a low-level thief, or both -- or a really, really bad bank robber.

But they could be helped. Yes, they could actually be turned around if we bothered to care and to work at it with him.

How do I know this? I have worked with hundreds of men and women who did exactly that.
They worked hard and turned their miserable lives around. They became reasonable human beings and citizens.

The "dumb goofs" deserve less time in jail and more reality-based counselling, direction, care and help.

Not, "How did you feel when you hit your wife, Lenny?" But, "What could you do with your Wednesday nights beside get smash-faced with your old buddies?"

We needn't hire shrinks to ask all the wrong questions. We already have custodial staff and parole officers who could be taught the methodologies that get results.

We could divert hundreds from the corrections cycle to legitimate integration into the law-abiding community.

The whack jobs, the truly dangerous crazies?

They should be locked up in maximum-security prisons and kept there for long periods of time.
Like, life.

That's what we used to call "protection of the community."


On Thursday, we saw an eagle on Kits Beach, lunching on some sea food.

We were only about 50 feet away.

It was a magnificent sight.

Ruining the Hood

Yesterday was bright and sunny.

The pols were out.

First I ran into the entire Vision team, campaigning for the fall civic elections. That was O.K. I like Gregor and Raymond and I'm always happy to stop and schmooze with them.

Later, I was taking an exercise walk and I saw a man and a woman. The man said, "Hi." I stuck out my mitt for the handshake, but he said, "I'm Ivor," and pointed his upturned palm to the woman. "This is Joyce Murray."

Murray wants to be your Liberal party MP for Vancouver Quadra.

Murray tried to hand me a brochure.

"Did you know that there is a Federal by-election in this neighbourhood?"

"Yes. I'm a journalist. I'm well aware of that, thanks."

"Well, are you going to vote Liberal?"

"Not a chance. Not in this lifetime."


"But, hey, it's democracy. Good luck."

It's nice to see people walking these days.

Drunk Drivers are Sick Puppies and Should be Removed from the Roads at Once

The Province is running a week-long series on drunk driving.

The issue is profound.

We live in a society that suffers from, among many others, at least these two major problems.

Everyone feels powerless.

Nobody listens. Our vote doesn't count. Officials make policy that is universally offensive and nonsensical. We don't know our neighbours. We don't want to know our neighbours.

I need to express my power somehow.

I can park under the NO PARKING sign. I can walk across the red light. I can drive drunk. I can drive drunk when I'm on vacation in Maui.

Second, we live in a juvenile society, a me society. If you're not in MY MOVIE, you don't really exist. I HAVE RIGHTS!!!

On Friday, I was driving home along South West Marine Drive.

A man in an enormous black SUV did something unbelievable. He drove very, very fast along the right hand inside shoulder for almost one block to pass me.

Dangerous and illegal, but, hey, he places to go, people to meet.

There is talk of taking peoples cars away when they drive drunk. I'm all for that. And any other punitive measure that may impress these criminals.

I don't care where you work and how bad the transit system is. Maybe after 5 years of living with that, you might figure out that driving sober is the only way to go.

Anybody found drunk driving should be compelled to alcoholism treatment at once.

We Said So First

Both the Sun and the Province have now siad in editorials exactly what we said here on Thursday, February 28th.

Spending $110 Million on a study of homelessness - instead of building homes - is a crime.

Glad to see that the press is monitoring the blog.


There is a baby-video industry and it is booming?

This is not a business of people watching videos of cute babies.

This is the business of getting babies to watch videos. Some mistaken hysterical so-called parents want their kids to get a fast leg up in learning their alphabet and numbers.

"The world had gone mad today, and it's sad today..." So goes an old Cole Porter chestnut.

Make War, Not Love

Let me see if I understand this.

The U.S. is selling nuclear capabilites to India.

The U.S. is helping Pakistan train their military.

India and Pakistan have rockets permanently aimed at one another.

I suppose that's a good way to ensure the votes of all those folks who make armaments in Tennessee.

The Amazing Race

For those who may think that Barak Obama's surge in the Democratic primaries is just some mysterious miracle, fueled entirely by his extraordinary rhetoric, read this piece in the today's NY Times.

The article chronicles the enormous amount of money raised and being spent by the Obama team, more, apparently, than that of Hillary Clinton.

Just looking at them, grabbing food on the run, and hop-scotching from one state high school auditorium to another, makes me sit back in wonder at their stamina and determination.

How do they do it?

Why do they do it?

To be President of the United States, I guess.

Clearly, I am suffering from an Ambition Deficiency.