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Ontario Tech University researcher’s work cited in Supreme Court minimum sentence ruling

Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa. Below right: Dr. Carla Cesaroni, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies), Ontario Tech University Faculty of Social Science and Humanities.
Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa. Below right: Dr. Carla Cesaroni, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies), Ontario Tech University Faculty of Social Science and Humanities.

In striking down the law for minimum sentences for gun crimes on April 14, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) cited at Ontario Tech University researcher’s co-authored paper published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal.

In 2001, Dr. Carla Cesaroni, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies), Ontario Tech University Faculty of Social Science and Humanities and Dr. Anthony Doob, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, University of Toronto, published The Political Attractiveness of Mandatory Minimum Sentences. That paper was among several scholarly works consulted by the justices in a 6-3 ruling upholding a 2013 Ontario Court of Appeal decision that called the minimum sentence law ‘cruel and unusual’.

The federal government passed the law calling for “a minimum prison sentence of three years for a first-time offender and five years for a repeat offender convicted of possessing a prohibited or restricted gun that is either loaded or for which ammunition is ‘readily accessible’” (Criminal Code of Canada, Section 95). It was one of 60 minimum jail terms created for a variety of crimes categories over the past nine years by the federal Conservatives.

Dr. Carla Cesaroni, UOIT

“Politicians often promote mandatory minimum policies as a way of fighting crime,” said Dr. Cesaroni. “The struck-down law enacted was part of a sweeping omnibus bill. But decades of criminological and legal evidence clearly establishes mandatory sentences are not an effective crime-control strategy, and actually disrupt the sensible operation of the justice system. Our research also noted that mandatory minimums for gun crimes have been a failed experiment in the United States.”

Dr. Cesaroni says the SCC’s ruling is crafted in such a way that other mandatory sentence laws could be challenged in the future.