Sarnia council’s concern about a ‘catch and release’ justice system has been borne out by the numbers.
A new city police report analyzed data from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. It found 70% of arrests made (381 of 546) over that period were of individuals already bound by a judicial release from a previous arrest.
(Mental health-related arrests were omitted from the analysis, police said).
“The trend now is that everyone seems to get released, no matter how many times they’ve been arrested,” said Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen. “And so, for the police, it becomes the term ‘a revolving door.’”
Officers, Hansen noted, aren’t supposed to be concerned about what the courts do.
“But when you’re arresting the same person time and again, the public actually turns to us and says, ‘What are you doing? How is this happening?’”
That’s especially true for property crimes such as thefts and garage break-ins, he said.
“The very next day they’re doing the same thing in the same place, and the owner will look at us and say, ‘What are you doing?’ Well, we’re doing what we can do.”
In December, Coun. Bill Dennis’ sparked a debate at City Hall after raising the issue of “catch and release” justice and its impact on residents frustrated by brazen and repeat petty crimes.
Councillors later voted 8-1 to urge Ontario for take action on repeat offenders, and to share their concerns with the federal government, Sarnia Police, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.