In her mandate letter from the prime minister, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was directed to reform the bail regime. (Facebook)As a result, the justice system has effectively abandoned the primary grounds for detention — ensuring the accused's attendance in court, the study says. Among the recommendations for reform: a new legislative framework that presumes innocence and does not detain anyone unless the Crown demonstrates a need to do so. "While the sheer number and the seriousness of the current problems with bail in Canada are daunting, the time is ripe for action," the study concludes. "Broken Bail" in Canada: How We Might Go About Fixing It was completed in June and recently released by Justice under the Access to Information Act. In her mandate letter from the prime minister, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was directed to reform the bail regime. The initiative continues to be a priority, said Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod. "Bail is clearly a very important element in the justice system — from the perspective of protecting the public, fairness to the accused and justice systems efficiencies."
Webster's study found the problem includes both the procedure for determining whether someone gets bail as well as remand — the detention of accused people in provincial and territorial jails awaiting a bail decision or, having forgone or been denied bail, the resolution of their court case. While the sentenced population in Canada has steadily declined over time, the remand population has grown more than threefold over the last 35 years, the study says. At about 40 for every 100,000 residents, Canada's remand rate is higher than that of most Western European nations, Australia and New Zealand. By 2012-13, 54.5 per cent of all adults in Canada's provincial or territorial facilities on an average night were on remand. For the system, the consequences include higher costs and the "administrative nightmare" of day-to-day management.
"While the sheer number and the seriousness of the current problems with bail in Canada are daunting, the time is ripe for action."
Tinkering not enough
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