There is an arbitrariness to mandatory sentences that I believe is reflected in
’s answers. A teacher having intercourse with a teenage student would not draw the mandatory maximum but a doctor or priest fondling young boys would receive the mandatory maximum. Chad
Communities may support the principle of mandatory sentences for strangers but not in my experience for people they personally know. In our community a long respected family doctor was convicted of fondling several young boys when they were patients. He was sent to prison for several years. I never heard anyone in our city say he should have received a life sentence.
I have personally dealt with families where there was a member of the family abusing others in the family. In one case, after the abuser served a jail sentence, the family addressed the abuse. With a mandatory life sentence I do not believe they could ever have reconciled and re-united as a family.
The last question concerns Robert Latimer, a farmer from
. As set out he killed his severely disabled daughter because he could not stand to see her continuing to suffer excruciating pain. He was convicted of second degree murder in two trials. (His first trial had been overturned on appeal because of prosecutorial misconduct.) In Saskatchewan a conviction for second degree murder draws a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail. Canadian juries do not know the prospective sentence if an accused is convicted. From all the information around the trials it was clear that the juries would not have convicted of second degree murder had they known there was a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. The second trial judge, even though it was contrary to the Criminal Code, tried to sentence Latimer to a lesser sentence on the basis it was cruel and unusual punishment to sentence him to 10 years. On appeal the sentence was increased to the 10 year minimum. I think the trial judge should have had the discretion to impose a sentence of less than 10 years. Readers seeking more information can look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Latimer. Canada
I do not support mandatory sentences. They produce as many injustices as they purport to correct.