The Harper government is continuing its tough on crime stance with a move to put more individuals convicted of murder behind bars with no chance of parole. The government is introducing legislation that would mean life with no chance of parole for “especially brutal” first-degree murders, those who kill police or prison guards and those who kill during a sex assault, kidnapping or an act of terrorism. Prisoners could petition cabinet for release after 35 years. Under current law, a life term is automatic for murder, with the first chance at full parole for first-degree murder after 25 years.
Also, the government is moving to give juries an important role in determining whether convicted killers receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Juries would have to decide, among other things, if a planned and deliberate killing was “brutal”.
The jury’s finding of a “brutal” murder triggers a review by the judge, no matter what the jury’s recommendation is. The judge must decide if the killing was “of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that the accused’s behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural restraint.”
Bayne Sellar Boxall partner Ian Carter has previoulsy told the Toronto Sun that the proposed new law is unduly harsh, unnecessary and will likely face constitutional challenge.