Friday, October 16, 2015

Victim Surcharge won't make Homeless Offender more Accountable, B.C. Judge Says
"A B.C. provincial court judge says violating a homeless man's charter rights by forcing him to pay a $200 victim surcharge won't make impoverished offenders more accountable to victims.

In a ruling released Monday, Judge Donna Senniw said she couldn't find any justification for imposing a mandatory fine on an impoverished man who breached the terms of his release.

The Conservative government made the victim surcharge mandatory in 2013 as part of its tough-on-crime agenda; Senniw ruled last summer that change was unconstitutional.

But in her latest ruling, she found the violation couldn't be justified under Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that says an infringement of a person's rights may be allowed if it meets the objectives of a law.

'If an offender has no ability to pay the surcharge, it is difficult to envision how it could promote accountability, let alone raise money for victim services,' Senniw wrote.

'It is irrational to impose a mandatory payment on an individual with no prospect of payment, for whom attachment of government benefits would create a hardship and where a government administration would expend time, effort and monies to collect such mandatory payment.'"

Read Judge Senniw's Decision 

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