Mayors call for more people to be kept in jail before trial and the BCCA said use of lose Vancouver Island rail line
This week on Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan:
The mayors of Victoria and Esquimalt, who serve as co-chairs of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board, have issued a press release suggesting that to prevent police officers from being assaulted and to reduce criminal activity by mentally ill people, more people should be kept in jail before they have a trial.
In Canada, people are presumed to be innocent.
There is also a constitutional right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.
The presumption of innocence would have little meaning if accused people were routinely kept in jail without a trial.
Despite the presumption of innocence, a judge can require someone to remain in jail before their trial if it’s necessary to ensure they attend court, to preserve public safety, or to ensure confidence in the criminal justice system.
When someone is released, either the police or a judge can impose conditions on them. These will often include conditions such as reporting to a bail supervisor, not possessing weapons, or not contacting other people. The conditions are intended to address concerns about attending court or to protect public safety.
In Victoria, there has been an increase in property and other crimes associated with an increased population of homeless people who often suffer from mental illness and or drug addiction.
There is also a significant unmet need for mental health and addiction treatment services.
Proactively providing these services, rather than waiting for people to be arrested, and then seeking to have them kept in jail before their trial, would reduce both crime and confrontations with the police.
Putting someone who is mentally ill into jail for a few months will not cure their underlying mental illness or make the community safer in the long run. They will simply be released, without having received treatment, and the cycle will repeat.
Also on the show, a BC Court of Appeal decision involving the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation and the Vancouver Island rail line that runs from Nanaimo to Port Alberni is discussed.
In 1907 10.78 acres of the Snaw-Naw-As reserve was taken as a right of way for the rail line and $650 was paid as compensation.
The rail line has fallen into disrepair and has not been operational for 10 years.
The Court of Appeal has given the federal government 18 months to pay for the repair of the rail line and, failing that, the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation will be able to apply for the land to be returned to them because it is no longer being used for the purpose that the right of way permits.
Follow this link for a transcript of the show and links to the cases discussed.