A FEW WEEKS AGO, an Ontario woman (a known animal activist) gave water to a few pigs headed for the slaughterhouse. The pigs were in a truck and the water was given through slots and there was no big crime other than interfering with the man-made string of events involving pigs that are to be rendered for human consumption.
In the said sequence of events the animals are taken from a growing operation which should be a farm with rolling green pastures but instead is an industrial scale operation where animals are grown fast and fattened but not cared for. The transport conditions are often horrible for the animals.
Basic human compassion opposes the thought. Enter woman animal activist with a bucket of water at her side. For the crime of giving the pigs water she might ultimately have to pay $5,000 and be sentenced to six months in jail. Sentence should fit the crime, right? Well, if we are to see this harshness for showing compassion (yes, you can also file such an act under trespassing and civil disobedience perhaps) what then when the truly gruesome crimes roll in?
Here’s a glimpse: if you accidentally run someone over and kill them with your car, you might end up having to pay up to $2,000 or thereabouts and might (no guarantee), be forbidden to drive for a while. If you drive drunk (and have a history of driving under the influence) and happen to kill three kids and their grandfather you will get up to 10 years in prison with a possibility of parole three years into it. Such was the case of the very rich Marco Muzzo, the Ontario heir of a multimillionaire family, whose case saw the courts last year.
If you take a life but have a good defense lawyer you get a light enough sentence in many cases. If you happen to be in a lower social tier because life dealt you some less than lucky cards, well, things can turn grim soon enough.
Take the case of the First Nations young man whose case made the news recently. Adam Capay was sent to jail on petty charges. While there an inmate died and Capay was charged with the murder. Awaiting trial meant that he was placed in solitary confinement and left there until someone realized the atrocity and brought his case to light.
Solitary confinement for four years with lights on 23 hours a day is sheer torture no matter how you look at it. That someone can be thrown in a cell and left there for so long is incomprehensible. Sadly, it is likely that Adam Capay is not the only one, but is there an ongoing investigation considering it? One can hope. We are after all a country where we insist on keeping basic human rights respected. Sadly, this case points to the contrary.
Every now and then a case of extremely violent crime appears and we’re all shocked and saddened. How could this be? Is the person who committed the crime going to be given the punishment such a crime deserves? The answer is not necessarily.
Now of course you can argue that I have no knowledge of how the laws work and how the prosecution and defense people do their thing that leads to sentencing. Very true. But there is a sense of fairness missing that I cannot escape when coming across cases that are to put it mildly, blatantly horrible, and the offenders get a mere slap on the wrist or they get sheltered under the ever-extendable umbrella of mental illness (another issue that is needing urgent attention in Canada).
For those of us who have the luxury to just read and discuss these cases things are rather rosy. I cannot imagine having to face a justice system that seems to be, at best, finicky and unpredictable, pretty much the opposite of what it should be.
I do not believe in capital punishment, but I do believe that a system that has offenders committing part of their life or the entire rest of it serving the society they took so much from might just help lower the crime rate throughout Canada. Taking care of those with mental disease before any harm is committed, yet making it impossible or darn hard for anyone to hide under the excuse of mental illness might also help reduce the level of crime.
It’s an issue that will not get you too many popularity votes in some social circles, but an important one nonetheless. A society that treats its people well and protects them from harm while dealing fairly with offenders has much to offer. We can only hope that one day we will arrive there.