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Conditional Sentencing and the Need for a Principled System of Non-Custodial Sanctions

Ikonomov, Daniel Ivanov
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) LL.M. thesis, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Downloaded 7 March 2005.

In 1996 Canada implemented a comprehensive sentencing reform. Bill C-41 was enacted to introduce a systematic approach to sentencing policy and process, to provide consistency in sentencing, and to enhance the transparency and public understanding of the sentencing regime. The stated purpose of Bill C-41 was to provide courts with more options in an effort to distinguish serious from less serious offences and offenders through the imposition of expanded range of sentencing alternatives. A major step in that direction was the introduction of a new type of sanction, the conditional sentence of imprisonment. In a series of recent decisions the Supreme Court of Canada addressed certain contentious issues surrounding the new sentencing regime- While conditional sentencing was readily embraced by the courts as an alternative to imprisonment, the need to fill the legislative gap in the use of non-custodial sanctions remains. One way to advance Parliament’s intent is to develop a system of non-custodial intermediate sanctions, that is sanctions beyond conditional discharge, ordinary probation or small fines, but short of imprisonment. A system of intermediate sanctions is proposed, based on rough equivalencies among sanctions, with reference to a set of detailed sentencing guidelines. Ranking non-custodial sanctions will enable judges to individualise the sentence and to preserve proportionality by first deciding how severe the sanction ought to be and then electing the most appropriate one from the group of sanctions at that level of severity. An important measure for evaluating of such sanctions is acceptance by offender, victim and public. As the majority of provincial and territorial prison admissions are for less than six months, the proposed system of non-custodial sanctions will have its greatest impact on this segment of the prison population. Author’s abstract.


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