Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What to do when the system is not working?

Dear Reader,

Today's news article review is entitled, ''Strict' conditions on accused killer weren't worth paper they were written on', wonderfully written by Michele Mandel of the Toronto Sun. My response is below with room for your comment below that, unless you prefer to send an email but please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack others personally, and keep your language decent.

As family and friends prepare to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Bridget Takyi, the man accused of killing and setting her on fire was remanded in custody again Friday. Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah remains behind bars, as he should have been when he was first charged with threatening to kill her back on Dec. 5, 2012.
“She was afraid; she was nervous,” says her cousin, Kingsley Yeboah, as the family prepared for the Saturday evening vigil and her Feb. 2 funeral. “That’s the reason why she pressed charges against him. She was hoping for protection.” Instead, the hardworking 27-year-old was brutally slain after dropping off the couple’s two little sons at her mother’s home so she could leave for work.

Sources have confirmed Owusu-Ansah, 30, was already known to police when he was arrested last month on eight domestic violence charges involving Takyi, including three counts of assault — one dating back to 2009, two of assault with a weapon and two of possessing weapons dangerous to the public, in addition to threatening death.

For some unknown reason — the proceedings are subject to a publication ban — justice of the peace Peter Wilson decided he should be released. Wilson set bail at $5,000 — no deposit — and released Owusu-Ansah into the care of a surety who assured the court that he would remain at his side 24 hours a day.

In addition to house arrest, Owusu-Ansah was not to contact Takyi in any way or be within 500 metres of her Etobicoke address; he was not to possess any weapons or “explosive substance” and within 60 days, he was to attend “any assessment, treatment or counselling for any psychiatric issues” and allow his surety to confirm his participation.

Those “strict” conditions weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Police believe his surety was sleeping when they allege Owusu-Ansah slipped out in the early hours of Jan. 19. “There’s no evidence to suggest he did anything wrong,” says Homicide Det. Sgt. Brian Borg of the surety. “He feels horrible about it.”

Owusu-Ansah was arrested for first-degree murder at a Mississauga gas station just hours after Takyi’s body, burned beyond recognition, was discovered at 7 a.m. outside her mother’s apartment building near Eglinton Ave. W. and Martin Grove Rd. As she approached her parked car to head to Pearson airport where she worked as a waitress for Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounge, police say she was repeatedly stabbed and then doused with a flammable liquid and set ablaze.

At the scene, they found a $10 gas can and the box for a knife called “The Best Defense.” Now, at the site where the beautiful Ghanian native died such a horrific, agonizing death, her family and friends plan to gather at 5 p.m. Saturday with white candles and questions. So many questions. How could somebody accused of beating their estranged partner and threatening to kill her still be allowed out on the streets?

And will anyone hold that JP accountable? “Somebody like him shouldn’t be out on bail,” insists Takyi’s cousin. “He should at least have had some sort of tracking bracelet so they could detect where he was.”
Why not mandatory GPS anklets? If our justice system is going to insist on giving house arrest to people charged with violent crimes, then there must be a better way of monitoring them.

The cases are legion: accused Eaton Centre shooter Chris Husbands was on house arrest, teenaged cop killer Nadeem Jiwa was supposed to have a curfew, double-murderer Nathaniel O’Brien was being “monitored” by his parents. Takyi went to the authorities for protection. But they let her down. “I hope things will change now because the system is not working,” Yeboah says. “If somebody like him can be out, I don’t think that’s right, I don’t think that’s right at all.”

                                                      Where was Justice for Bridget Takyi?

my response.....

When you consider that in just one week, we have Justice Charles Hackland's decision concerning a City of Toronto action being reversed on appeal for making a 'error in law' that could have resulted in a democratically elected mayor removed from office essentially on the basis of a resolution that Toronto council had no authority to pass and now, we have a fellow who should never have been released from jail with 8 domestic violence charges outstanding provided with a no deposit set bail only to attack and kill his wife. Is it any wonder our Social Agencies and Police throw their hands in air in despair? This poor woman went to these agencies looking for help! Her life was in danger. The Police knew it. The Women's shelters knew it! Why didn't the JP? This sorry state of affairs begs the question....could we reduce or even eliminate this problem if our judiciary were elected?

                              Democrat Hon. Thomas P. Amodeo, elected to the Buffalo City Court

American states have judges (up to the State Supreme Court) who are elected by the voters. Judges are then answerable to the people.  Governor or Legislative Appointment: In 4 states, judges are appointed by the governor or (in South Carolina and Virginia) the legislature. Gubernatorial appointments
usually require the consent of the upper house of the legislature or the participation of a special commission such as an executive council. In most of these states, judges serve a term (ranging from 6 to 14 years) and then may be reappointed in the same manner. In Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, judges enjoy lifetime or near-lifetime tenure. Merit Plan: In 23 states, judges are nominated by a nonpartisan commission, and then appointed by the governor. Judges serve a term and then are subject to a retention election, where they run alone, and voters can either approve another term or vote against them. Terms vary but on the whole are less than those in appointment states. Nonpartisan Election: In 15 states, judges run for election. Their political affiliations are not listed on the ballot, and so voters, unless specifically informed, do not know a candidate's political party. These judges serve a term and then may run for reelection. The terms range from 6 to 10 years. Partisan Election: In 8 states, like New York for example, judges run for election as a member of a political party. They serve a term in the range of 6 to 10 years for the most part and then may run for reelection. This is, one could argue, more democratic than having judges be appointed.  If a judge makes too many decisions that are out of line with what taxpayers believe, he or she can be removed.

                                                 Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley 
While there are some very compelling arguments for and against a person being either appointed as a judge or justice of the peace by the provincial Attorney General or elected by the people, I would suspect that many people would agree that no matter what method, a judge or justice of the peace must be impartial and the selection of judges should not be based on politics, but on a person’s ability to be fair and impartial.  Cynics may argue that the voting public isn’t equipped to determine the most qualified candidate, especially those susceptible to influence by special interest groups but judicial decisions become law and can have a great impact on the taxpayer. So, should the taxpayer have the final say in selecting the judiciary that presides over our court rooms?




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