By Jason Menard
Karla Homolka can’t help but continue to serve as a source of lessons learned for the Canadian justice system. But now it’s time to learn from those mistakes and take steps to prevent them from ever happening again by creating Karla’s Law.
Again, Homolka has defeated the system at its own game. A Quebec judge ruled in favour of Homolka’s appeal against the strict, court-imposed restrictions placed upon her freedom following her release from prison in July. As our justice system undoubtably learned some painful lessons about the art of making deals thanks to the after-the-fact revelations of Homolka’s involvement in the schoolgirl murders, so too should our justice system learn from the mistakes of this after-the-fact application of restrictions and make post-release conditions mandatory for those convicted of violent crimes in the future.
Despite our general disgust with Homolka and her actions, the fact of the matter was that our judicial system played the game with her and lost big. She made the deal and it is up to us as law-abiding Canadians to uphold the nature and intent of the law. What would it mean in the future if potential informants realized that any deal they cut now could simply be changed depending on the social and political will in the future?
That said, despite being a bitter pill to swallow, the decision is the right one. Now, we must take our medicine and work to find a cure for the system.
While Homolka may have argued that the restrictions placed upon her upon her release may have been harsh, the fact of the matter is that this is exactly what we need to make the norm, not the exception in this country. When a person commits a violent crime, they should no longer be entitled to the same rights and privileges as the rest of us law-abiding Canadians. They have shown that they can’t play our social game, so there should be no problem if we choose to adjust the rules to the players.
Violent crimes aren’t the result of a mistake. Often they are done with some sort of premeditation and almost always with malice. They are not the run-of-the-mill lapse of judgement or careless mistake, so they need to stop being treated – or punished – the same way as common criminals.
If you commit a violent crime: such as rape, murder, or assault with a weapon, then you must pay the price for your action for life. Yes, a stint in prison pays back your debt to society, but it’s time we consider the life-long repercussions as the interest on the principal.
Upon release from prison, violent offenders need to be registered. Their movements need to be tracked for life. If that means monthly check-ins with the local authorities, then so be it. If it means submitting current photos and reporting changes in appearance, then all the better. And if it means restrictions upon where and with whom you’re allowed to associate, that’s no problem.
If a violent criminal is truly reformed then they should have no problem complying with the requests and look at these restrictions as payment for the right to enjoy the same freedoms that the rest of us do.
Is it too much to ask that we know where our rapists, murders, and violent criminals are? Is it too much to expect that they stay away from potentially negative interests when they’ve shown a proclivity towards making the wrong decisions in the past? Are measures designed to reassure the public that much of a price to pay for the right to walk the streets in freedom again?
Best of all, if the knowledge that these strict restrictions are a potential ramification of an action causes just one person to rethink their plans to commit a violent crime, is it not worth the investment?
The case of Karla Homolka has exposed the cracks in our judicial and penal system – now it’s time to introduce Karla’s Law to show that we, as a society, have finally learned from our mistakes.
Unfortunately for the French and Mahaffey families, we can’t change the past. But what we can do to honour the sacrifices their daughters made is take steps to prevent this type of abhorrent crime from ever happening again. And if Karla’s Law is the way in which we need to get tough on violent crime, then perhaps we’ll prove that we’ve finally learned from our mistakes.
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