Canada | Opinion

Column: Native offender didn't get off easy for his crimes

"According to critics — which includes just about everyone, it seems — Del Louie got away with assaulting bus driver Charles Dixon thanks to Louie’s aboriginal ancestry.

So there are two claims being advanced here: First, that Louie received an inappropriately light sentence for his crime, and second, that Canadian law supports a two-tiered — that is, racist — approach to sentencing, with aboriginals receiving lighter sentences than non-aboriginals for the same crimes.

Let us consider the first claim. Provincial Court Judge Karen Walker handed Louie an 18-month conditional sentence, to be served in a rehab residence, along with two years probation and 200 hours of community service. According to critics, this is an inappropriately light sentence, since Louie should have gone to jail for his crime.

Such sentiments suggest that a jail sentence is necessarily more onerous than a conditional one. Yet a conditional sentence, while not served in jail, is, in a sense, a custodial disposition — it includes conditions that Louie must remain in the custody of the rehab residence. Hence it’s a lot like being in a jail, just without bars on the windows."

Get the Story:
Peter McKnight: Aboriginal sentencing rules racist? Good (The Vancouver Sun 4/13)

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