Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Efficient Administration of Justice Act

Yesterday I proposed a provincial solution to what is currently a federal problem. Establishing a self-regulating college of professional sex workers is something Ontario could do to improve the situation for sex workers in the province, but it doesn't do much good if the federal government makes sex work illegal.

Let me introduce you to my proposed Efficient Administration of Justice Act, a great idea I dreamed up when the Conservatives decided to increase the penalties for growing small numbers of marijuana plants.

The act would allow the creation of a regulation that designated certain criminal offenses as low-priority offenses. The act would require that if a police department, a crown attorney's office, or a court used resources to investigate, prosecute or communicate to the public about a low-priority offense that it's budget would be reduced the following year by the quantity of those resources expended. For clarity, if any investigations or communication regarding low-priority crimes occurs during a day then that day is assumed to be have been spent on low-priority crimes.

This is all about efficiency, you see. If our police are spending their time investigating low priority offenses then we don't really need so much money in the police budget. That money would be better spend improving roads.

But we may have to go further in order to ensure that everyone understands how seriously we take inefficient operation of the criminal justice system. Let's establish the Efficient Administration of Justice Board. In order to investigate any low-priority crime you must first get an order from the board. In order to do that you need to bring forward every single complaint and cold case you have and explain why solving the low priority crime would have a bigger impact than solving any of those. Note you have to argue is it more important to solve it, that has nothing to do with how likely it is to be solved.

Obtaining such an order doesn't protect you from the budget reduction detailed above - in fact, it makes it certain to happen - but if you don't get such an order then courts are not allowed to consider evidence you gathered during your investigation. To top it off, you must show the order to anyone who is connected to your investigation, including suspects.

Then the government could establish a tip line to report police who are inefficiently administering justice by investigating or reminding people of low-priority crimes.

Adding new items to the regulation is retroactive - that is, all investigation of low-priority crimes that were committed before being deemed low-priority must halt. But removing items is not retroactive and, in fact, triggers a five-year transition period - if a crime is removed from the list then any instance of that crime committed at least five-years after it's removal from the list is no longer subject to the act.

I'd want to make the possibility of being prosecuted under any low-priority crime so unfathomable that regular businesses could go ahead and set up shop committing these crimes. Obviously I would target drug laws but this new prostitution law is all the more reason to do this. I don't know if the federal government would take us to court over this law, but they would get trounced if they did.

I'm not sure if the province could find a way to legally let everyone already convicted of one of these crimes out of prison.

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