Gateway Gazette

Holding the Justice System Accountable, Jean Announces Bill 201

EDMONTON, AB: With crime rates making dramatic spikes across Alberta, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean’s Bill 201 the Justice System Accountability Act will remove the cloak of secrecy and demand accountability from a justice system that is forcing victims to wait too long and even allowing accused criminals to walk because of chronic delays, the Wildrose Official Opposition said.

According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada the number of crimes reported in Alberta in 2015 increased by a shocking 18 per cent, including a 12 per cent increase in violent crimes. This rise in crime has been met with an increasing number of trials being stayed because of delays and a lack of resources in the courts.

The president of the Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association, James Pickard, recently said in the past two months criminal charges against 200 people have been stayed, including 18 accused of impaired driving.

Bill 201 will mandate the transparent reporting of measures within the justice system, highlighting the number of delays, mistrials and plea bargains, to ensure there is a greater focus on resolving these backlogs and bottlenecks so victims get justice in a timely manner.

Jean said Albertans are losing trust in their justice system and are looking for solutions that demand greater accountability.

“Albertans have seen headlines of those accused of violent crimes, accused of drunk driving and accused of assault have their trials stayed as crime is rising in their community,” Jean said. “We need to make better use of current resources in our courts and determine where to add more; this piece of legislation is critical in forcing the minister to be transparent about what the delays are caused by, where the delays are most acute, and also rates of plea bargains and lessened charges.”

Macdonald-Laurier Institute Report Card on the Criminal Justice System released in 2016 revealed that Alberta received the worst grade in the country for fairness and access to the justice system, and one of the worst grades for efficiency.

Wildrose Shadow Justice Minister Angela Pitt called the guiding principle behind the Justice System Accountability Act an essential piece to solving the problems facing Alberta’s justice system.

“We are seeing crime on the rise and accused criminal cases stayed. Albertans – especially the victims – deserve better,” Pitt said. “There is no reason for the government to try and block this bill, other than trying to keep critical information about the state of our justice system away from Albertans and avoiding talking honestly about the solutions we need to fix the problem.”

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