Later this month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three cases in which judges in Ontario and Nova Scotia resisted against the Conservative government’s Truth in Sentencing Act, which bars judges from giving two days credit for each day in pre-trial custody. Currently, there is a routine practice in most provinces in which judges give 1.5 days credit to make up for such things as overcrowding and lack of programming in prisons. The Act sets the maximum credit as 1:1 but says that judges can give up to 1.5 days “if the circumstances justify it”. Judges say that circumstances nearly always justify it.
Much of this resistance to the government’s tough-on-crime strategies is meant to protect judicial discretion over sentencing. After all, judges are programmed to think independently. However, critics say judges are not following the law, which should be their main objective.
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