Thursday September 19, 2013
Themes of Criminal Justice
1. Due Process and Crime Control
Concern to limit, guide and structure official discretion and powers: the end does
not justify the means
The goal of the justice system is not to control crime at any at all costs but the
goal is to obtain fair justice and to protect human rights of individuals.
Presumption of innocence
Emphasis on individual and their rights
There are limits placed in criminal justice authorities.
Get people off from their sentence
We have increasingly heard and seen developments that reflect the view that
the rights on individuals really should not take precedents over safety of
Emphasis on controlling crime, protection of public and rights of victims
Emphasis on deterrence and incapacitation
Criminal Justice authorities should have as much discretion and power
needed: “the end justifies the means”
Strong presumption of guilt and confidence that the innocent are screened out
at the policing and prosecutions stages
2. Myths of “The System”
Conflicts between different stages/ components
Conflicts in relation to a single stage/ component
Competing interests: offenders, victims, communities, and administration of justice
Judges are likely to be concerned to impose determinant proportional sentences so that
the punishment will fit the crime
The sentencing objective of the judge may be undermined by the early leave policy etc.
Judges may pass a sentence with the aim of rehabilitation but then correctional officials
may go against this we can see the tension between the different stages.
Correctional officers in a prison: keep order in the prison as well as juggling the needs
on the prisoners (rehabilitation).
After the Eaton Centre shooting, lots of critics directly blamed Ontario’s Bail System
Husbands Case (Eaton Centre Shooting)
March 2012: Hamilton incidents leading to 9 weapon charges 5 counts of
breaching bail, obstructing police
November 2010: Toronto Sexual Assault incident leading to sexual assault
charge. Granted Bail.
April 2012: Hamilton court case: weapons charges dropped, proceeded on 2
courts of breaching bail, 2 counts of obstructing a police officer, single count of possession of marijuana. Received 4 months times served and 200$ for
During the time of the shooting, he was still out on bail for the sexual assault.
From this case we can see the tension between Due process and Criminal
o Rehabilitation aim vs. retribution
The judge was saying there was no violence in these charges
and work is important
o Crime Control: allowing an offender to be released before trail
o Even though he was charged in 2010 the judge still let him have bail:
question of “he had a charged for sexual assault, released on bail even
though he had a weapons charge was pending”. Very unusual for a
person to be granted bail when they are facing weapons charges. Were
the different jurisdictions of police communicating with each other?
o The idea that due process needs to be primary in the decision making
in order to protect innocent people from being convicted
o We can also see tension between policing decision and then they are
frustrated when they arrest people and trying to put them before the
courts and they end up being put up for bail
o Stage of policing and retrial release
o There would be conflicting interests between community interest and
public safety. The victim: her interest.
o Administration of Criminal Justice: the justice system of concern must
continually ensure it enjoys legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
Discretion is “the freedom to chose between different options when confronted with the
need to make a decision “ (Griffiths p.30)
Always kick in when risk is involved, justice of the peace needs discretion when
We have to remember law is general in nature (when written) and then individual
decision makers interpret these broadly crafted laws in different situations
These general laws must be interpreted and applied in these cases
Husbands case: issue of discretion: judges using their discretion in deciding sentences.
Police discretion in terms of charging
Discretion is often a very controversial topic of concern
Raise two related issue
When similar offenders who commit similar crimes receive different
kinds of sentences.
Justice is suppose to be blind and objective
Disparity is not so desirable from the perspective of legal regimes.
Appeals function as way to ensure that like cases and decided alike.
Statutory sentencing principles: aim to limit disparity and try to make
sentencing a little more consistent across different cases.
2. Discriminations Discretion provides the space for the influence of systemic
Not the same as disparity however they do overlap.
Lost of limits with discretion
The state of being accountable: liability to be call