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Letter to the Editor: Probation too lax nowadays

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

I formerly resided in Windsor, engaged in the profession of Corrections there — 12 years spent with the RCMP and 17 years with adult probation.

At that time, juvenile probation and adult probation were separate bodies as the latter was formed later, in 1965.

I retired from the RCMP at Windsor in 1966 after 25 years of service and I immediately joined adult probation and worked at that for the next 17 years, all in Hants and Kings counties. As a result of this service, I became familiar with all aspects of Corrections — and this included the people that Corrections were all about. I met many families again that I had met doing police work.

I just wish to dwell on probation here. It was a rewarding job after spending many years having to put people in jail to keep the community safe.

In 1965, when adult probation was formed, first-time offenders, while mentioned as such, when sentenced, were not given any special attention and if given a suspended sentence were left on their own to police themselves, which did not always turn out for the best. During my years in probation, I thought the system worked well. It was not overloaded so probation officers could spend time with their charges. Of course, there was not 100 per cent success. Usually a person who broke probation had their chance and a usual sentence followed, subject to the judge’s discretion.

I subscribe to the Journal and the Court Report is always of interest, especially where probation is handed out as a sentence.

First, there are a vast number of probation sentences handed out. There are a good number of probation sentences given out for breaking probation or is often stated, “breaking an undertaking”. One would have to ask—– well, if they did not abide by probation in the first place, why are they being placed on it again?

The March 6 Court Report in the Journal is a good example.

It lists six cases, nearly all serious matters. No one went to jail. Two were charged with breaking probation and were put on probation again. One had a jail sentence concluded as time served when first arrested. The whole procedure seemed like a revolving door operation. All the people tried that day seemed to be repeat offenders with one possible exception. It would seem that crime Is a recognized profession now and this is one way to stay in business if caught.

Why are people not being supervised better? Violators now are usually caught because the police arrested them committing new crimes.

I would conclude probation is gained too easy today. Times have changed. The public is certainly not as safe now as they once were, so perhaps some handicaps should be placed on lawbreakers.

Harold Searle,

Halifax

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