Drive-thru justice?

turnoverarocktoday has put most of its resources into Justice & the Penal Systems and related areas because it’s an overwhelmingly rich and fertile source of material. There is so much in line for preparation, and more awaiting editing/rewrite. Using assets for the site’s broader mandate is a daunting challenge.

This story, important only to those immediately involved, illustrates the vagaries of a justice system plagued by a backlog peppered with often frivolous and unsupportable actions that satisfy only the questionable agendas of some stakeholders.

There have been a few recent calls from an inmate in Toronto South Detention Centre who is held on remand, waiting for the disposition of a number of charges. Let’s call him Zachariah, because it’s a great name. Zachariah is charged with two bank robberies, using disguises, and so forth, while his girlfriend has been charged as an accessory for sitting in an idling ‘getaway’ car. There is no evidence….no DNA….no money….no reliable witnesses….nothing connecting either of them to these crimes. There is security tape which does show a disguised suspect who could resemble Zachariah…..and a few hundreds of other black men his age and size. His one vulnerability is opportunity….he might have been in the area of the crimes about the time they were committed.

So here we have a man whose life is on hold while he sits in a provincial jail that has a well-earned reputation as a difficult environment, his girlfriend has a cloud hanging over her, time is passing, and there can be many months before a satisfactory conclusion is reached that works well for them both…if they risk a trial, and the cards are dealt in their favour.

And so, his lawyer and the Crown negotiated a resolution that the Court will accept under the circumstances. If Zachariah will plead guilty to the charges, he will be sentenced to six months in custody, which of course will be reduced by the two months he has already spent in jail, plus the extra benefit for time-served as a presumably innocent defendant. And, the charges against his girlfriend will be dropped.

What? These are serious crimes. What this offer tells Zachariah is, we-think-you-possibly-did-these-bank-jobs-but-we-can’t-prove-it-and-we-know-you-can’t-afford-to-sit-in-jail-for-months-waiting-for-a-potentially-better-outcome-so-if-you-accept-this-deal-we-can-close-the-file-and-show-the-case-as-won-without-wasting-the-court’s-time-with-a-trial. How this will impact Zachariah and his girlfriend’s life is irrelevant to the officers of the court.

Nonetheless, of course he’s going to take the offer.

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