Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The decision is yours
We played an interesting game on my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday that got the phone lines buzzing - and now I'd like to give you a chance to weigh in here in Blogworld.In a nutshell, I posed two very different set of real-life facts and then asked callers to decide what they would do if put in the position of making the call.Read them both, then post your thoughts and see how they compare to what others think.CASE A - THE ELDERLY WAR HERO TURNED CHILD MOLESTER
A 76-year-old Korean war veteran has recently been found guilty of repeatedly sexually abusing his daughter and niece.The attacks occurred more than 40 years ago but were only reported to police in 2004.The Crown is seeking a six-year prison sentence. The defence has asked for a conditional penalty that allows the man to remain free in the community.His health is a major issue - he has had 28 operations, is battling diabetes and heart problems and may not have long to live.The Crown has told the judge to disregard any medical issues and focus on punishing the man for his crimes, which have left both victims emotionally scarred for life.The defence says a jail sentence will be a death sentence, and the man deserves leniency based on his age and health, the passage of time from when the crimes occurred and the fact he doesn't pose a risk to society.Queen's Bench Justice Murray Sinclair has reserved his decision. (Read story HERE
)The majority of radio callers had no pity for the senior and said he deserves to be severely punished, despite his current condition. One very emotional man called in, identified himself as a victim of childhood sex abuse and told listeners about his daily struggles in the many years which have passed.If the call was yours, what would his sentence be? And why?CASE #2 - THE 10-YEAR-OLD WILDFIRE ARSONIST
It may be one of the most costliest cases of playing with matches we've ever seen.Authorities in California say a 10-year-old boy is responsible for one of the major wildfires which recently ripped through 155 square kilometres of land and destroyed 21 houses in the process.
The kid - described by those who know him as a quiet, polite boy - apparently started a small blaze outside his mobile home. Dry, hot conditions combined with a strong wind quickly turned his work into a massive, out-of-control inferno.Now a debate is raging - should prosecutors charge him with a crime? (Read story HERE
)We couldn't have this debate in Canada, as the boy is too young to face sanctions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. But it's a different story down south.Some legal experts say they could never prove such a young child could be aware of the consequences of his actions - something they'd need to do to make an arson and/or negligence charge stick.Callers to the radio show were somewhat divided on this one, although more seemed to side with the child and said he shouldn't suffer legal hardship for what amounts to a tragic mistake. Others weren't so forgiving, saying the boy must have known what he was doing and should be hauled into court. Some suggested his parents should as well, and they should be forced to foot the multi-million dollar damage bill.Imagine you're the prosecutor here - would you charge the kid? And why (or why not)?
I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.