Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pardons, Karla Homolka and an ill-conceived petition

With the news that infamous serial killer and accomplice to Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, is eligible for a pardon under the Criminal Records Act, there has been much misplaced and misinformed public furor. The facebook group No Pardon For Karla Homolka! Has about 108000 members as of today, April 25th. It also sports a wall full of visceral and hateful comments about Homolka, including calls for her death.

There are a number of major problems with this nonsense, not the least of which being the fact that few people even know what a Pardon, or more accurately a Conditional Pardon, even entails.

First, let me state clearly that no one is denying the facts that: 1- Homolka's crimes were truly heinous and despicable, 2- The Crown prosecution totally botched their case against her and 3- She got off with an inappropriately lenient sentence. Not one of these issues can be rectified by rallying against a Pardon.

What is a Pardon? (from Pardons Canada)
A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. Pardons are issued by the federal government of Canada. This means that any search of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) will not show that you had a criminal record, or that you were issued a pardon.

It is NOT forgiveness or absolution. The record is sealed but not expunged and can be reopened at any time in a future trial and is admissible as evidence of previous criminal activities. Nothing more, Nothing less. That's why it's called a "Conditional" Pardon.

Now this is an extremely important point to consider... Last month, when the story broke that former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer escaped serious charges of Cocaine possession and drunk driving, there was public outcry at the suggestion of government interference in legal due process. Now, with this nonsensical clamor against Homolka's Pardon, there is suddenly a public outcry for the government to interfere with legal due process. Does no one see the sheer hypocrisy in this... ANYONE? Not to mention the potential slippery slope; this year it's a serial killer denied a pardon due to public pressure, maybe next year, due to the pressure from a different interest group, it will be kids busted for Marijuana possession.

I guess the last and most basic point that people seem to miss is that she is Karla Homolka. Parole, Pardon or even Canonization will never take her horrific past from our memories. She can never have a normal life, will never enjoy anonymity. Trying to block the Pardon serves no positive purpose so save your breath.

2 comments:

Catasstrophy said...

You are quite right, of course. The Pardon process is what it is, and we really cannot make an exception for anyone, even (unfortunately) Karla. What we CAN do, however is change the laws so that certain crimes, like say, taking part in the murder of several young girls, are unpardonable.
People's reaction to this development is very visceral, and totally understandable. I suggest that what we can do with our outrage is not to circumvent our laws, but to change them.

Voice of tReason said...

This was posted to the facebook group and received comments like "This is useless!" and "Friggen apples and oranges ! B.S. thats all that blog is."

Yes, some well considered opinions expressed there by people who can't make a cogent argument as to why they joined the group.

Someone also said "fiddlin ben , you're A chisler , for its not the semantics we care about , but the evil underlining issue , and sadly there is no number you can call to change it now , but with education comes the potential for future change , and I think there are about 100 000 plus people on this page who will be less apathetic come next election time ...."

I think that might be a reference to the movie "Gangs of New York" but I'm not sure how it relates nor what the comment, as a whole, actually means.

But, all said and done, I still have to ask the question, "what do they think they will accomplish?" The pardons act is not a vehicle to re-try cases.