James Clifford Paul, the young man who plead guilty to aggravated assault and sexually assaulting a seven year old girl in 2014, will find out his fate in April 2016.
According to a March 7 Global News report, both the Crown and Defense are seeking a 10-year sentence.
There is not enough time in the world this man could serve that would be adequate punishment for what he’s done.
In December 2014 the little girl was airlifted to hospital in critical condition after being sexually assaulted and beaten. She remained in a coma for several days and is now in a specialized foster home receiving multiple types of therapy. The girl sustained severe brain injury, needs round-the-clock care and may suffer from PTSD.
Despite the fact Canada completely abolished capital punishment in 1998 this is an option that should seriously be considered for offenders like Paul.
In 2013 a country-wide poll revealed 63 per cent of Canadians supported re-instating the death penalty. Many feel the death penalty will deter homicide and other brutal crimes. However, in western societies homicide rates have remained stable or decreased.
For those who have the urge to kill are so inebriated they commit heinous crimes — as Paul was (drunk and high on crystal meth) — they probably aren’t even thinking about consequences. So how can something not even on their mind influence their actions? It’s about safety, responsibility and justice.
Sure, they may be genuinely sorry for what they’ve done but that doesn’t change the facts. Like everyone, they must be held accountable for their actions and being impaired doesn’t excuse that. The consequences must fit the crime and not fail the real victims.
In the Global News story Paul is quoted saying he prays for the girl and her family every day. So what? What a passive, useless way of trying to make amends and soften others’ opinion of him to that of a wayward but good and remorseful man.
Paul may not have killed the little girl but he still took her life. He took the life she was poised to have and stole the potential she and her family spent seven years cultivating.
While there are advantages to capital punishment, including: condemnation for serious and brutal crimes, elimination of those offenders repeating, modern DNA technology reduces the chance of punishing innocents, addressing overcrowding in prisons and help give closure to those deserving, there are also disadvantages.
Even with technology there’s always the possibility of error, death penalty prosecutions and processes are more expensive than a life term, and not all jury members can remain impartial to race and religion.
But Paul has already admitted he committed the crime and no matter what his race may be the facts of what he did stay the same.
Governments, as elected civil servants, have a responsibility to protect their people. Subjecting Paul to the death penalty may in turn take his life but he made the choice to get drunk and high and harm a child.
That little girl wasn’t the only victim of Paul’s crime. Her family is suffering in the aftermath and even his own family had to leave their home due to treats.
How ethical is it to let him spend 10 years in a regulated facility where he’s fed three meals a day and others are obligated to ensure his safety when the little girl had the quality of life she was meant to enjoy robbed from her?
How can governments continue to support and fund other forms of death, such as war, where it’s brave men and women dying and not consider capital punishment in certain situations? Is it because members of the Canadian Armed Forces chose to join?
Paul made a choice too and by allowing any leniency the message is being sent his life holds more value than hers. If he spent the rest of his life doing good deeds it wouldn’t return that little girl to the state she was in before the attack. His life caused the destruction of another.
Amelia Naismith is the new reporter for the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer. She writes a regular column for the paper.