The number of suspects that have been arrested on serious criminal charges and are being released from custody is growing in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus in Canadian prisons.
One judge noted that the pandemic has “reordered the usual calculus” as a number of court decisions show that even people accused of violent crimes are being released, according to Global News.
Another judge wrote, “These are extraordinary, dire times,” in a decision that ordered the release of someone who shot a bullet through the window of his ex-girlfriend's apartment in Hamilton, Ont.
Some of the other accused criminals being released include a getaway driver involved in a recent murder attempt in Toronto. Another allegedly took part in a shooting in a Toronto strip mall. One was a person who allegedly tasered and pistol-whipped two people over a drug debt in Ottawa.
The Post Millennial was in touch with Erin O'Toole, who commented on the situation, “This is very alarming, especially for cases of domestic abuse. One accused violent offender allegedly shot through his girlfriend's window.”
“Now that he is out of jail, he will know exactly where his alleged victim is all the time because of self-isolation. We need to put victims first, prioritize community safety and stop this dangerous and irresponsible experiment.”
The pandemic has caused the courts to effectively shut down, though there are still detainees insisting that they be released amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Crown prosecutors are not all for the current trend and have argued that the courts would be undermining public confidence by releasing serious criminals.
After confirming only two cases of coronavirus in provincial jails, Ontario prosecutors wrote in an April 1 memo, “Given the size of our population, this is currently a very small risk factor.”
According to court records, even people who have long criminal histories are being released in certain circumstances, such as a man who goes by the initials T.K. and has 23 convictions.
The Judge involved noted that “in normal times,” the man would have probably been detained after his latest arrest.
“Yet, as mentioned, we currently live in extraordinary and very challenging times,” he added, saying that the confined conditions that inmates live in make them much more vulnerable to the virus.
The Judge added that the current is not a “get out of jail free card.” Though more and more court rulings are showing the release of prisoners for this reason.
The Post Millennial was also in touch with Pierre Paul-Hus, Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety, Border Security and Emergency Preparedness who said, “Anyone serving time in a federal penitentiary is serving serious time for a serious crime. The government says it wants to protect Canadians from COVID-19, but now it wants to speed up the release of dangerous offenders.”
“Let’s not forget that the Parole Board of Canada’s decision to allow a convicted murderer, with a history of domestic violence, out on day parole resulted in the senseless death of a young woman earlier this year. Canadians deserve better than a Prime Minister and a government that prioritizes the rights of criminals over the rights of victims.”
MP Glen Motz sent Public Safety Minister Bill Blair a letter asking him to reconsider the early release of criminals.
One man who was released is Kaynadid Abshir, who rented a car and drove three gunmen to shoot a victim using nine-millimetre handguns in Toronto.
“Crown counsel opined that this shooting is one of the worst ones he has seen. The victim was chased into his home, and the assailants were firing at him while the front door was still open,” wrote the judge.
The March 27 ruling on the man's bail noted that the only reason the victim survived was because his attackers were “not good shots.”
There have now been 21 positive COVID-19 tests at federal corrections facilities—12 of them in Quebec, seven in Ontario and two in BC. There are currently 25 tests still pending.
“We’ve taken measures already in Corrections Canada to ensure that we’re keeping inmates and corrections officers more safe from COVID-19. But we’re still looking at other steps,” Trudeau said Tuesday.
An Ontario judge said, “That there are not many cases yet is of little consequence. The virus starts in one person but then can run like wildfire through an entire population.”
“It can then be carried outside of the institution by the staff. That is the nature of a pandemic and of contagion.”
Many factors have to be considered in determining whether someone who has been arrested by police should be granted bail, though coronavirus is continually coming up in these cases.
One man identified by initials T.L. was released after being charged in a 2019 shooting that injured one victim.
T.L. is “alleged to have passed the firearm to D.M. immediately before D.M. shot his cousin, and then used his own car to pick up the shooter and flee the scene,” his judge wrote.
T.L. was initially denied bail and appealed asking to be released and live with his grandparents.
The ruling read, “The offence is a very serious one. The shooter is charged with attempted murder. Mr. L. is charged with having aided that. He is also charged with having provided the weapon.”
“The surrounding circumstances were also aggravating. Although in the early morning hours, this was a plaza with many members of the public in the area. It was a violent, brazen shooting in an open public area.”
Release was ordered by the judge who wrote, “in the unique circumstances in which we now find ourselves, facing a global COVID-19 pandemic, it is also relevant to take into account the realities of detention and release in our current environment.”
It will be “very difficult” to predict the beginning of his trial due to the backlog that will be caused due to the shutting down of courts—which will only remain open for emergency cases.
“In the middle of a pandemic, serving that time in an institution is even more difficult. Transmission of the virus would be so much easier within an institution than in a private home.”
“Protective measures being undertaken by the rest of the community (such as not congregating in groups, self-isolation, social distancing, maintaining a six-foot distance between people) are not as easily achieved in an institutional prison environment.”