Police groups demand Ottawa get tougher with criminals

Police groups call on Ottawa to overhaul corrections, sentencing and parole systems

Ottawa should overhaul its corrections, sentencing and parole systems because violent criminals are getting off too easy, two police associations said Tuesday.

The Canadian Police Association represents 30,000 officers across the country. Their nationwide petition demands a public inquiry into Canada's prisons.

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"The petition we are launching is a wake-up call for the government to bring an end to the 'Club Fed' culture of Corrections Canada," said Bob Baltin, president of the Police Association of Ontario.

"It is time to instil meaningful consequences for offenders, reinforce public safety, and instil public confidence in our criminal justice system," he added.

The police associations said rapists and killers spend too little time in prisons that are too "cushy."

The petition calls for:

  • Truth in sentencing for first-degree murderers, who should spend at least 25 years in a maximum-security prison with no parole eligibility;
  • A repeal of the Criminal Code's "faint hope clause" that allows certain violent offenders to apply for early release after 15 years;
  • In determining the level of security for serving sentences, the offender's criminal history and crime for which he or she is sentenced should be the predominant factor;
  • Victims should have greater input into sentencing, prison classification, parole and release decisions;
  • Tighter laws and prison policies to protect Canadians from violent criminals.

Baltin and Canadian Police Association executive officer David Griffin cited examples of what they consider too-lenient sentences for violent offenders and "cop killers."

The most prominent example was the transfer of Clinton Suzack, who was convicted of murdering Sudbury Police Const. Joseph MacDonald, to one of Corrections Canada's medium-security prisons.