Pardon system needs tightening

Amherst Daily News
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The deals keep coming for killer Karla Homolka. She got a great bargain in her 1993 trial for supplying evidence against her husband Paul Bernardo, thus serving a mere 12 years for manslaughter. Now, Canadians will be disgusted to learn, she will be eligible for a pardon later on this year.

As the law currently stands, she can apply this summer. That’s the way it goes, and 99 per cent of applications are approved by the National Parole Board – as noted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday at a victims’ rights conference marking National Crime Victims Week.

That’s a trend the prime minister wants to see tightened. Considering the federal Conservatives have long had on their agenda get-tough-on-crime bills, it would be fitting to see something a lot tougher on those who have committed horrific, violent crimes.

The Conservatives also were shocked in regard to another notorious case. Earlier this month it was revealed that sex offender Graham James, a hockey coach convicted of abusing players, was pardoned three years ago. That news came, ironically, not long after reports that James faces more similar allegations.

Offenders can apply three to five years after completion of a sentence and the National Parole Board says it has no discretion to refuse an application as long as the key requirement of having been an upstanding citizen in the meantime has been met.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said the government is looking at substantial changes, with a bill expected by this fall.

Canadians will expect success with such a bill. Pardons don’t forgive, or wipe out a record, but they do mask the record so it doesn’t come up generally in background checks.

The record of a sex offender will turn up in a check if they apply to work with children or an otherwise vulnerable group. But for those who have committed violent acts, the rest of the population must be entitled to a heads-up about the person’s past.


Organizations: National Parole Board, Conservatives

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Recent comments

  • Jacqueline Casey-Schaefer
    April 20, 2010 - 13:24

    I find this appalling! If the people of this country recall, Paul Bernardo was a peeping tom and a sexual offender. Kidnapping, torture, murder, and dismemberment did not come into the picture until Karla Homolka entered the scene. I take from this fact alone that she was the violent instigator. Now, after only 12 years of imprisonment and 3 years good behaviour, that she will get a full pardon? This is ridiculous! Although behaviours can be modified, the brain and thoughts can't. They can only mask the abhorrent thoughts of the being. I sincerely hope, for all Canadians and their families, that Karla is closely monitored. Not given a pardon!