A made in Alberta solution

Joe McWilliams
For South Peace News

Alberta’s Minister of Justice continues to pound the pavement [so to speak] to promote his department’s efforts to put “more Alberta and less Ottawa” in the justice system here at home.

Two weeks ago, he was on the phone talking to weekly newspapers about recent developments.

  1. The establishment of an Alberta parole board;
  2. The establishment of an advisory board on gun control.

On the first item, Doug Schweitzer said having a provincial parole board should improve the so-called ‘catch and release’ system of dealing with criminals that frustrates so many Albertans. Having “common sense Albertans” on the board, he said, will work better than the federal parole board that is currently doing the job.

The new parole board will have jurisdiction over a lot of property crime stuff. In other words, people who have been sentenced to less than two years for thefts. The rise in thefts – particularly in rural areas – is a huge area of frustration for Albertans, and the provincial government has been hearing about it.

The message with the provincial board seems to be that people who deserve to remain locked up will remain locked up if a parole board made up of Albertans is on the job.

“We want to have people on the board that understand the havoc that this [thefts] is causing,” Schweitzer says.

As to when the board might be established, first things first. The legislation to create it must pass first, which the minister figures will be this spring. After that the call will go out for applications.

“If anyone from your area is interested,” Schweitzer said, apply.

What membership would entail remains to be seen as details are finalized.

But Schweitzer did say he expects the burden of attending meetings could well be eased by using the new technology for remote attendance.

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