Life without parole ruled too ‘cruel’ for mass murderers — Analysis

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that sentences without a chance of parole are too harsh, even in most heinous cases

Canada’s highest court has ruled that even the most heinous criminals, including mass murderers and serial killers, can’t be locked away without a chance for parole because such prison sentences are “cruel”Unconstitutional.

“Such sentences are degrading in nature and thus incompatible with human dignity because they deny offenders any possibility of reintegration into society, which presupposes – definitively and irreversibly – that they lack the capacity to reform and re-enter society,”In a unanimous verdict, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Alexandre Bissonnette was the one who appealed to the court. He had been convicted in 2017 of killing six worshippers and severely wounding five others. Bissonnette was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years, but Friday’s ruling requires that he be made eligible for potential release in 25 years.

Recognizing the importance of “unspeakable horror”about the attack on the Mosque and the “agonizing scars”The high court ruled that Bissonnette had left a mark on Canadian society. “We cannot help but feel sympathy for the victims and their loved ones for their irreparable losses and their indescribable pain.” Chief Justice Richard Wagner insisted that  the ruling doesn’t devalue the lives of crime victims.

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“This appeal is not about the value of each human life, but rather about the limits on the state’s power to punish offenders, which, in a society founded on the rule of law, must be exercised in a manner consistent with the Constitution,”Wagner stated.

Canada doesn’t use capital punishment and limits sentences for first-degree murder to life in prison with eligibility to apply for parole in 25 years. Judges can now impose life-long sentences on multiple murder cases, thanks to a new sentencing policy. In Bissonnette’s case, with convictions on six  counts of first-degree murder, that meant the judge could have made him ineligible for parole for as long as 150 years.

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling finding such sentences “cruel and unusual”Retroactively, this applies to 2011, and will likely affect parole eligibility for at least 18 others convicts previously without hope of being released in the next 25 years.

Alek Minassian, who is awaiting sentencing for murdering 10 people and wounding 15 others in 2018, will likely be the next beneficiary of the high court’s decision. A rented van that he drove down a busy Toronto sidewalk and through pedestrians could have made him ineligible as far as 250 years. Instead, he’s now assured of eligibility to seek parole in 25 years.

“I’ll tell you what cruel and unusual punishment is,”Minassian’s car crashed into Cathy Riddell and she sustained severe injuries. Riddell spoke to the Canadian Press Friday. “It’s an innocent person being murdered. It’s an innocent person being maimed or an innocent person having their life ripped apart.”She continued, “I’m ashamed of our country, and I’m ashamed of our court system for doing what they did.”

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