There is no Monopoly Man and COVID-19 is Not a Get out of Jail Free Card.

AuthorIzadi, Melody

Why the public needs to relax their fear of violent criminals being needlessly freed

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been public query and fear (and at times outrage) over whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic allows violent criminals to roam free on our streets. Salacious and tantalizing commentary has sparked public debate over whether or not our justice system remains operable, and whether it can still function as a mechanism for law and justice during this unprecedented time.

Recent media publications have touched at the very heart of this inquiry: are courts automatically and unjustly releasing on bail violent criminals because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Short answer: no.

Firstly, our bail system is premised on the vital right to a presumption of innocence. That is not watered-down Kool-Aid speak from a defence lawyer. That is a constitutionally entrenched and fundamental concept of our justice system. The reason why criminal trials exist in our country is because there is a presumption of innocence. From that legal starting point, our bail system has developed a series of legal tests and requirements that set out the parameters of consideration for release into the community after arrest. This intrinsic and essential part of our justice system did not get thrown out the window because there is a virus that is effecting the day-to-day operation of our court system. Imperative legal precedents, requirements, statutes, tests and standards have not been suddenly flushed down the proverbial toilet. Instead, the justice system has adapted (as any modern and liberal justice system should) to the changes that this pandemic demands. The risk of contracting the virus in custody is one of many factors thrown into the pot of consideration for the Crown and presiding justice when considering release. However, the case law developing from the courts has been crystal clear: the fact that an inmate is at a heightened risk in custody for contracting the virus is not itself a ticket out of jail. The traditional legal tests and requirements for release still must be met. It is pure fiction and propaganda to suggest that our justice system is suddenly releasing violent offenders back into our communities with little regard for anything but the risk of that alleged offender's risk of contracting COVID-19.

Don't drink that Kool-Aid.

Secondly, the idea that "violent criminals" are being released back into our communities on bail erroneously assumes...

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