Courts need to keep violent criminals from reoffending

Last week, I wrote a story about the grieving mother of Dana Turner, who was still upset over how the justice system handled the murder trial of her daughter’s killer.

Wendy Yurko expressed frustration over how Turner’s killer, Mark Lindsay, was charged with second-degree murder instead of first degree, despite there being evidence that the murder was premeditated.

But her greatest grievance was the fact that a mere weeks before her daughter was killed, Lindsay had pleaded guilty on Aug. 12 to an assault on Turner. Lindsay was detained in the Fort Saskatchewan jail, not far from where Turner was living. Following his guilty plea, he was sentenced to time served (50 days) and released from jail.

It didn’t take him long to enact his revenge against Turner.

According to Yurko, Lindsay had an extensive criminal history. Media reports that I dug up also show he had a history of mental health issues and faced challenges with drug addiction.

And yet, 50 days after stabbing Turner in the head, Lindsay was deemed fit to walk the streets.

The story shares a striking resemblance to a story I wrote back in September about a Fort Saskatchewan man, Edward Kyle Roberts, who had been charged with murder in relation to the stabbing deaths of two Edmonton seniors on Sept. 2.

I met with Roberts’ father Eddy, who was completely distraught over the murder.

He told me his son had been charged with assault with a weapon two months prior, after he attacked him with a pair of scissors.

The previous summer, Eddy said his son was acting “like a demon” and he attacked his sister with a baseball bat.

After being jailed for attacking his fathers with scissors in July 2016, Roberts’ received bail on Aug. 25 and was ordered to keep the peace, abstain from drugs and alcohol and to have no contact with his family.

It had barely been a week when he was accused of murdering John and Maria Nascimento on Sept. 2.

Eddy told me he warned Edmonton police that his son was a danger to himself and others, but was told they couldn’t do anything.

An RCMP spokesperson I contacted said the police couldn’t do anything at the time because there was no proof that Roberts had breached his bail conditions. He also said the RCMP were against Roberts’ release on Aug. 25.

And yet, this man, with an extensive history of violence and drug abuse, was released once again, only to end up back in jail as an accused murderer.

I understand everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and everyone should have a chance at reform. But it’s evident there are glaring holes in the court system when people with extensive histories of committing violent crimes are continually released back into the public only to reoffend, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Canada’s justice system must find a way to keep violent prolific criminals behind bars before they can offend again. There has to be a more stringent system with further checks and balances to ensure that people who are likely to offend again don’t get the chance to.

Otherwise, the court system will continue to be as guilty as the criminals it sends off to jail.

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