British Columbia Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peter Juk wrote a letter in response to recent criticism of the province’s criminal justice system.
In his seven-page letter, Juk writes that while reviewing the justice system is an integral part of healthy public discourse, he criticized the recent focus on so-called prolific offenders and accusations that the province applies a “catch and release” model. when it comes to lawsuits.
His letter comes as a report on how to deal with prolific offenders in British Columbia is due out in late September. Juk noted that the term “prolific offender” has no legal definition and said the term means different things to different people.
Juk pointed to the Charge Assessment Standard, a section of the Crown Counsel Act that requires each Crown attorney in British Columbia to “review all relevant information and documents and, upon review, approve the prosecution of any offense or offenses that he or she considers appropriate.”
He also wrote that the BC Prosecution Service operates within strict legal timelines and limitations when it comes to prosecutions and posting bail.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees anyone charged with an offense the right not to be denied reasonable bail without cause. Under the criminal code, anyone arrested for an offense has the legal right to be released by the police or brought before a judge for a bail hearing as soon as possible. The judge decides whether to place the person in police custody or release him on bail and under what conditions.
Juk wrote that bail is often “the rule” and pre-trial detention is “the exception.”
“Some have described constitutional and statutory bail law as ‘catch and release.’ This phrase tends to undermine a basic principle underlying all enlightened criminal justice systems: respect for humanity. of all individuals, including those charged with crimes.
Over the past two years there have been increasing reports of random assaults in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver, which has contributed to the perception that crime rates are “out of control”. However, Juk said crime rates in British Columbia are “about as low as they have been for many years.”
Juk warned that public confidence in the criminal justice system can be undermined by “misinformed or inaccurate” public statements and said the public deserves “true facts”.
“The system is not broken. However, no system is perfect, and public confidence in the criminal justice system is essential to its success. Public scrutiny, informed discussion and reasoned debate help ensure the proper functioning of our criminal justice system. It also helps us make improvements and adjustments where necessary to ensure that we can fulfill our mandate as an independent, efficient and fair prosecution service.