Revolving door for thieves and thugs?

Some offenders being released and told to ‘stay out of trouble’ are doing anything but

As editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer, I’m privy to all K Division RCMP emails. Everything that Alberta RCMP send out, I get a copy of.

Since the Pipestone Flyer is mostly local, I don’t run many of the press releases in this paper. However, I read all of them. Over the past three years, there is one charge I keep seeing crop up, and I’m getting sick of it: Fail to comply with undertaking or recognizance.

Generally, this means an offender who has already broken the law and been released while told to, in effect, “stay out of trouble.” And he or she is not staying out of trouble.

One such suspect was arrested this past week in Maskwacis after allegedly being caught shoplifting in Wetaskiwin, then assaulting a police officer and fleeing town in a vehicle allegedly driven by a drunk driver; the suspect in question was charged with 16 offenses, including two counts of “Fail to comply with undertaking or recognizance.”

The same day that press release was sent out by Wetaskiwin RCMP, I received a call from a concerned reader whose farm was targeted by thieves. This fellow said they broke into his quonset and stole his property. This is a really frustrating situation for rural Albertans as they are continually told to remain calm and patient as the wave of break and enters continues; Albertans should rely on the justice system to protect them. Then you see the suspect this week with two counts of “Fail to comply with undertaking or recognizance.”

I can also tell you, after 25 years in journalism and thousands of hours spent reporting on crime and courts, that suspect may face 16 charges, but she will never be convicted of them no matter how much evidence police gather. From my experience, most of the charges will be dropped if she volunteers to take responsibility for a couple of other charges and probably released right back into the community to potentially cause more harm. How can anyone who displays antisocial behaviour like that ever pay their debt to the rest of us if even the justice system doesn’t expect them to take responsibility for their actions?

This past week (it was a busy week) a fellow named Jimmy Saskatchewan walked away from his two and a half year sentence for using a firearm while committing an offence and flight and operation of a motor vehicle while disqualified. He just walked away from a place called the Stan Daniels Healing Centre, which I’d assume is a group-hug, I’m okay-You’re okay place, not a jail where a guy like him belonged. Saskatchewan was spotted June 25 walking down the street in broad daylight. Luckily, he was arrested.

Ridiculous. Normal Albertans who are concerned about their safety and property want to know that thieves and thugs will face the consequences of their actions, and I’ll be honest with you, in my opinion that doesn’t appear to be happening.

About 20 years ago I worked in another community that had an legendary crime, violence and vagrancy problem. The town council was struggling to answer the question; a brilliant suggestion was made. Why not look into a banishment bylaw?

Repeat offenders obviously have no respect for their community and couldn’t care less about the harm they’re causing. So why not banish them from the community forever?

If the justice system is just going to dump their problems back on us, we don’t want you and we don’t need you here.

Problem solved.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

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