An opinion on reform changes with respect to the principles and purposes of sentencing

Introduction

I have been asked to provide an opinion on reform changes with respect to the principles and purposes of sentencing. I am a status Indian and am a member of the Yellow Quill First Nation in the Province of Saskatchewan. I have been a lawyer for 8+ years and practice in the capacity as a Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Province of Saskatchewan. For the past three years, I have taught Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System as a Sessional Lecturer at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan and currently in my last year of completing an LL.M. The material in this paper is gathered from my own experience as an Aboriginal lawyer and academic reflecting only what I know from practicing, studying and teaching in the Province of Saskatchewan.

The opinion paper provides some recommended changes. Principles of denunciation and deterrence are important within sentencing; however, I have outlined some of the challenges and have questioned whether these two principles fulfill the goal they are meant to achieve. Overall, I concluded they should remain as is. Next I reviewed the principle of rehabilitation. I suggested broadening the scope of the sentencing principles to include reform changes in the Criminal Code with respect to people with mental disabilities and cognitive impairments. Lastly, rehabilitation and proportionality were discussed with the several listed challenges to mandatory minimum sentences I have questioned the effectiveness of mandatory minimums and suggests they are far too restrictive, detrimental and have limited the discretion of judges and lawyers.

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