According to the second annual criminal justice report card released by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the city of Brampton, Ontario was rated the most improved justice system in Canada. Last year, Ontario rated seventh on the list and received a C+, but with many improvements made, they are now rated in fourth place, and have increased to a B grade for fairness and public safety improvements.
Although the city officials can give themselves a quick pat on the back for how far they have come, there is still a whole lot of work to be done. They continue have a fairly high rate for violent crimes around the city, and they have a disproportionately high number of Indigenous Peoples who are incarcerated compared to other Provinces.
The Institute used five different measures to rate the Provinces: support for victims, resources and costs related to criminal justice, public safety, efficiency and access and fairness of the justice system. The good news is that Ontario was ranked the second lowest when compared to others for crime rates, which is way lower than it was in 2012. They also have enjoyed a much lower rate of accused criminals not showing for their court date than they did in previous years, as well as a reduced number of those who refused to comply with court-issued orders.
Victims in Brampton, Ontario also received the highest proportion of court-ordered restitution in Canada when they hire a brampton criminal attorney. When it came to resources and costs, Ontario was lower than average; access and fairness scored second highest against other systems with the highest legal aid expenditures in Canada. Over 1000 criminals in Ontario received free legal aid to defend themselves against charges.
When asked, Ontario residents had mixed views about the justice system and how well it was serving the public. They ranked the police highly on the measure of how well the officers enforced the laws and ensured residents’ safety. Residents also were highly satisfied with the safety that police supplied and their response rate. However, they weren’t so satisfied with the information that law enforcement supplied or whether they were approachable or fair. They appear to have a high level of confidence overall in their justice system, but it is still lower than other provinces around Canada.
One of the worst things on Ontario’s report card was that they had among the highest breaches of probation amongst other Provinces and a very low weighted clearance of violent crimes. The costs to run the justice system were fairly high, and the cost per those incarcerated was among the highest
One of the reasons that Ontario appears to have a long way to go to make their justice system fair for all citizens is that they have the highest amount of accused criminals remanded into custody while awaiting a trial. Although they are supposed to be presumed innocent, most of those who have alleged crimes in their history are sitting in prison waiting for their day in court, which is not the Canadian justice way. But – scoring one for the team – Ontario had the fewest incidents of criminal code violations, which might indicate a law force that is rooted in good.
Although they are working hard to reform their justice system to make it fairer for everyone across the board, and are doing a fairly good job of it, Ontario still needs to have many reforms put into action. Having a high number of people behind bars when they are supposed to be presumed innocent is not acceptable, nor is it fair. It leaves residents with a poor taste in their mouth for their justice system.
Ontario should be given accolades for all their efforts to make their criminal justice system more fair, economical and efficient – that is undeniable. It also can’t be denied that they still have a long way to go. Since change doesn’t happen overnight, there is certainly something to be said about going from a C+ to a B, but when the goal is to make it to an A, change might have to be slow and steady. But if they can do it, then they will win the race.