Sun. May 28th, 2023

Assault, arrest, release, repeat: what is being done about dangerous criminals released back on the streets?

By | Gabrial Pollon

A rise in random violent attacks in Vancouver have sparked outrage and a demand for change in how the justice system handles high risk offenders.

The violent crime rate is now the highest it has been since 2013 according to a new data report released by the Vancouver Police Department. Vancouver has even been dubbed by some locals as “Gotham City” because of surging crime rates.

Even more terrifying, the majority of these assaults are completely random, committed against innocent citizens going about their day. 

The most recent attack was against a pizzeria employee who was taking out the garbage when a man viciously beat his face to a pulp with a tire iron at gunpoint. Another was a woman walking through Chinatown who was struck repeatedly in the head with a hammer.

In other instances, which occur daily all over Vancouver, people are sucker punched, pushed into traffic, stabbed, bear sprayed, and much more. What do all the cases have in common, other than the fact the crimes were committed randomly by strangers? 

If caught, the offenders are almost always immediately released after arrest. Including prolific offenders, who have been arrested numerous times, often for the same charge. 

Everybody’s got to be working together, and collaboration is key. Today’s safer communities action plan is an important step forward, with more to come. Everybody in our province deserves to feel safe in our communities.

Premier David Eby

This is often due to the existence of parole, statutory release or bail. Keeping criminals in detention, in fact, is completely last resort, for when there are “no other means to effectively control a person who risks re-offending.” Unfortunately, this system does not seem to work. 

While there are no statistics on the amount of released offenders who re-offend, one can make the informed assumption that the number is very high. This is due to a variety of factors, one of the most prominent being mental illness.

Mental health was found by the police to be a major contributing factor in 73% of recent random attacks. 53% of the stranger assaults were committed by re-offenders who had been released. 

British Columbia’s premier, David Eby, announced a new public safety plan on October 20th that focuses on repeat offenders, which he says has two key tracks: “one around enforcement, recognizing that we have zero tolerance for violence in our communities, making sure that people are protected. The second track (is) around intervening. Helping people break the cycle of life in and out of jail, preventing crime before it happens (through) intervention services that recognize the root causes of crime.”

Eby plans to do this by deploying response teams composed of law officials and mental health experts across the province to work with re offenders and offenders who are high risk.

There will also be ten new Indigenous justice centres to provide support to Indigenous people who are caught up in the system.

An addictions care model at St. Paul’s hospital is to be revamped that helps homeless addicts recover and find housing instead of turning to crime or hopelessness.

Below is the VPD GEODASH Crime Map

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