Concept of Punishment in Canadian Law

Frustrated businessman with hands on face
جريدة المهاجر the migrant

After retiring; I enjoy doing volunteer work at different organizations and one of my favourite

is “John Howard Society”. John Howard was an 18th century Englishman who was captured by

the French while sailing from England to Spain. He spent 5 years in French dungeons before

returning to England in a prisoner exchange. Upon his return he was nominated as high Sheriff

of Bedfordshire and immediately embarked on visiting hundreds of prisons in England,

Scotland, Wales and Europe and came up with recommendations to improve the mental and

hygienic conditions of the prisoners. His recommendations were adopted by the house of

common and implemented across England, then across Europe and North America. Today John

Howard society has branches all over Europe and North America with 65 locations in Canada

working with youth and senior citizens who committed minor infraction to the law. The police

will channel their cases to JHS not to the regular courts. This is a very cost effective way that

minimizes the time of judges and lawyers spent in small infractions and concentrate their

effort and time on serious crimes. This also help clear some of the backlogs and result in faster

handling of cases.

JHS philosophy is to give first time offenders a second chance and integrate them back into the

society instead of jail sentences that expose them to hard core criminals and may end up

repeated offenders. We have a panel of three volunteer judges who look after a specific case,

asking questions about the circumstances of the offence, who did the offence affects and how

the offender feels after getting caught. Then the judges will deliberate and give their verdict

which revolves around community service, letter of apology, donation of money to a charitable

organization or attending a course about theft run by the police. After complying with our

verdict we send a letter to the judge and he/she will confirm the verdict and wipe out the

criminal record of the offender allowing him/her to work and integrate into the society.

This humane and constructive approach is in contrast to the cruel and outdated Sharia laws (in

Muslim countries) of cutting the hands of the thieves that condemn them for the rest of their

lives and prevent them from integrating back to the society. The number of crimes in any

country reflects its social justice and how this society is taking care of the poor and vulnerable

of its citizens. The more egalitarian society the less crimes and vice versa and the numbers

speak for its selves:  In US the crime rate is 783 per 100 thousand, but only 107 in Canada,

while it is 66 in Sweden, 75 in Norway and only 61 in Denmark (with half of the incarcerated

are from Africa and middle East or Asia). It is clear that the more egalitarian the society is, the

less crimes. I feel sad when I meet people from the Middle east who enjoy going on Fridays to

watch cutting the hands or the heads of criminals. It is a barbaric custom than never take into

account the mental health or how the offender was desperate to steal to feed himself or his

kids. Crimes is in the rise in the ME because more than half the population lives under the

poverty line ($1 per day) while it is going down in countries like Holland to the point of closing

many jails. Fighting the circumstances of the crime not fighting the criminals is JHS approach

and I am glad to be part of that humane system and a citizen of this great country called Canada.

By Mohamed Fetaih


جريدة المهاجر the migrant
the authormigrant
‏‎Kamil Nasrawi‎‏

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