Earl Jones and The Incredible Shrinking Justice System
When it comes to shrinking away from its responsibility, when it comes to providing exactly the opposite of what its name implies, when it comes to letting everyone down - not just the victims of crime but the entire population - nothing beats the good ol' Canadian justice system.
Until earlier this week I'm sure there were still a few people in this country clinging to their belief in the system - a belief that our justice system could actually dish out some real justice when it really needed to. Even knowing the system's horrible track record, these few remaining true believers just couldn't face the cold hard truth.
Until the sentencing of Earl Jones earlier this week (on February 15th), that is.
Steal $50 Million, Spend A Year Or Two In Jail
I've written about this country's rather embarrassing and often infuriating justice system quite a few times over the years and each time I feel slightly more despondent and enraged.
True, with this case we may not be talking about letting a psychopathically violent criminal out after serving just a few short years in jail for his third violent sexual assault, nor are we talking about an incredibly short sentence for a case of horrific child sex slavery, but, still, we are talking about a man who has destroyed many people's lives (including his own brother's!) by stealing their life savings and leaving them destitute in old age.
In fact, over two long decades, Jones stole more than $50 million in a Ponzi scheme and lived a life of extravagance and affluence on the proceeds.
For an almost identical crime (though involving much more money) Bernie Madoff was recently sentenced to the maximum sentence of 150 years in prison down in the States.
Here in Canada, however, our system calls for a maximum of just 14 years in jail for the very same crimes. But the prosecutors and the judge decided that for stealing $50 million and ruining approximately 150 people's lives Jones only deserved an 11 year sentence.
And that's not even the shocking news. The real crime against justice - both real and perceived - is the fact that both the prosecutor who recommended the 11 year sentence and the judge who handed it down knew full well that Jones would be eligible for full parole in - wait for it - 2011.
Yes, you read that right, Earl Jones could be free and on the streets next year.
The hell with any sense of real punishment, or any silly notions of deterrence, or even vague appearances of justice itself. What need have we for any of those things in this country?
As Jones' brother said after the sentencing, ours is a "Mickey Mouse system".
Way To Go
So there you have it, folks. Steal 50 million dollars and live a life of absolute luxury for over two decades - complete with mansions, million dollar condos, and vacations all over the globe - while destroying dozens of people's lives... and all you've got to give back in return is a year or two in a minimum security jail.
Not a bad trade-off. One I'm sure many others would consider a deal worth taking.
So, way to go Canadian justice system. You've done it again. Way to send out that strong, bold message that we don't tolerate such repulsive, reprehensible behavior in this country. Way to send shivers of fear down the spines of all potential future fraudsters. Way to send the victims home satisfied that justice has been done. Way to show the true meaning of Canadian justice.
And, hey, all you criminals, fraudsters and swindlers out there, you better think twice before you mess with the Canadian justice system or you'll be sorry. You could be sent away to a minimum security prison for a full year, possibly even two.
To Be Fair
To be fair to Jones, however, it's not like he stole $100 million and destroyed 200 people's lives. If he had done something that sinister and malicious I'm sure the Canadian justice system would have stepped up and thrown the book at the guy. I mean, $100 million, if it had been a crime of that magnitude there's simply no way he'd be out even a day before 2012.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
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