Youth crime crackdown

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On Oct. 12, 2004 a young offender named Archie Billard was speeding through the streets of Halifax in a stolen car, followed closely by police. Billard ran a red light and slammed into a car driven by Theresa McAvoy, killing her. The case drew national attention not only for the severity of the crime but moreso for the fact the young offender had an extensive crime sheet.
Further, two days prior, he had been released from a Windsor court because of an administrative mixup.
Although a minor, Billard was tried and found guilty in adult court. He was sentenced to 5-1/2 years in the Waterville Youth Detention Centre. Despite his litany of crimes, his name would have been kept out of the public domain had he not been tried in adult court.
On the election campaign trail Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced this week that a Conservative government would scrap the existing law and replace it with tougher legislation.
At the top of the page is a commitment that would immediately satisfy a sizable segment of Canadian voters.
Upon conviction, the names of violent youth criminals would no longer be protected from public exposure. Judges would be given discretion to publicize those who have committed numerous minor offences.
It would also be easier for prosecutors to have accused youth detained prior to a court appearance.
Maximum sentences would also be increased for those those who commit violent crimes such as first-degree murder or manslaughter.
This stance is sure to help the Conservatives in areas of high gang-related youth crime like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - where support has been traditionally soft. It can't hurt elsewhere in the country either given the public's distaste for existing youth crime legislation.
Harper's stand is sure to have its detractors but we believe the crackdown is long overdue.

Organizations: Waterville Youth Detention Centre, Conservatives

Geographic location: Halifax, Windsor, Toronto Montreal Vancouver

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